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Every day's a (food) holiday

 

In honor of February's National Almond Day, we celebrate desserts, entrees and snacks that feature the healthy nut. This lemon tart's crust is made with almonds and almond extract.

In honor of February's National Almond Day, we celebrate desserts, entrees and snacks that feature the healthy nut. This lemon tart's crust is made with almonds and almond extract. Photo by: tasteofhome.com

 

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If you've never used almonds to dress up green beans, try today's simple recipe for green beans with browned butter almondine.

If you've never used almonds to dress up green beans, try today's simple recipe for green beans with browned butter almondine.
Photo by: foodiecrush.com

 

 

Jan Swoope

 

 

Food "holidays" amaze me. It's hard to name a food that doesn't have a day or month devoted to its celebration. February is National Chocolate Lovers Month (of course). And National Potato Lovers Month. And National Cherry Month, Grapefruit Month, Snack Food Month and Hot Breakfast Month, to name a few. But it gets better.  

 

This past weekend was National Margarita Weekend. Did you know? Feb. 2 was National Tater Tot Day. Feb. 5 was World Nutella Day. Feb. 6 was National Chopsticks Day, for cryin' out loud. Some of us probably needed Monday's National Drink Wine Day to get over the fact that February is also Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month (foodimentary.com). 

 

In the midst of it all falls Feb. 16, National Almond Day. I love almonds. They contain healthy fats, fiber, protein, magnesium and vitamin E. They can help us work toward better blood sugar levels, blood pressure and lower cholesterol -- unless your primary source is Hershey almond chocolate bars, also delicious. But I digress.  

 

Almonds are more than just a snack to keep in the desk drawer at work, or a simple addition to toss in a salad. They can be used in so many other ways that make us feel a bit "gourmet." Think almond crusted trout, almond ginger biscuits, chocolate almond fondue, peachy almond shortcakes. Buy slivered almonds and store them in the freezer so you always have some on hand. You might use them in some of today's recipes, like the lemon tart with an almond crust, or crispy almond tilapia. (Use almonds for chicken and pork loin, too). If you've never dressed up green beans or asparagus with almonds, simple recipes are below. And see the easy steps for a quick vanilla almond snack.  

 

In honor of National Almond Day, pick a recipe and salute the nut. It might distract us from the fact that Saturday is Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day. 

 

 

 

LEMON TART WITH ALMOND CRUST  

 

Prep: 40 minutes; bake 10 minutes, plus cooling 

 

Makes 8 servings 

 

 

 

1 cup all-purpose flour 

 

1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted 

 

1/4 cup sugar 

 

6 tablespoons cold butter 

 

1/2 teaspoon almond extract 

 

1/4 teaspoon salt 

 

2 to 3 tablespoons cold water 

 

 

 

For the filling:  

 

3 large eggs 

 

3 large egg yolks 

 

1 cup sugar 

 

3/4 cup lemon juice 

 

2 tablespoons grated lemon zest 

 

Dash salt 

 

6 tablespoons butter, cubed 

 

 

 

  • Place the flour, almonds, sugar, butter, extract and salt in a food processor. Cover and pulse until blended. Gradually add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing until mixture forms a soft dough. 

     

  • Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a greased 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Bake at 400 F. for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Reduce heat to 325 F. 

     

  • In a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, whisk the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, peel and salt until blended. Add butter; cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Pour into crust. 

     

  • Bake 8-10 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate leftovers. 

     

    (Source: tasteofhome.com/Lois Kinneburg, Phoenix, Arizona) 

     

     

     

    CRISPY ALMOND TILAPIA 

     

    Total time: 30 minutes 

     

    Makes 4 servings 

     

     

     

    1 large egg 

     

    1/4 cup Louisiana-style hot sauce 

     

    3/4 cup slivered almonds, chopped and toasted 

     

    1/3 cup panko (Japanese) bread crumbs 

     

    1 teaspoon grated lemon zest 

     

    1 teaspoon seafood seasoning 

     

    1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 

     

    4 tilapia fillets (4 ounces each) 

     

    1/2 teaspoon salt 

     

    1/4 teaspoon pepper 

     

     

     

  • Preheat oven to 400 F. Whisk together egg and hot sauce in a shallow bowl. In a separate shallow bowl, toss almonds, bread crumbs, lemon zest and spices. 

     

  • Halve fillets lengthwise; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dip in egg mixture, then in almond mixture, patting to adhere; place on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned and fish just begins to flake easily with a fork, 12-15 minutes. 

     

    Note: To toast nuts, bake in a shallow pan in a 350 F. oven 5-10 minutes or cook in a skillet over low heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. 

     

    (Source: tasteofhome.com/Amanda Flinner, Beaver, Pennsylvania) 

     

     

     

    VANILLA ALMONDS 

     

     

     

    1 egg white, beaten 

     

    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

     

    4 cups whole almonds 

     

    3/4 cup sugar 

     

    1/4 teaspoon salt 

     

    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

     

     

     

  • Preheat oven to 300 F. Beat the egg white with the vanilla extract, add almonds and stir to coat. 

     

  • Combine the sugar, salt and cinnamon and combine with mixture. Place in a single layer on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 300 F for 20 minutes. 

     

  • Remove and cool on wax paper and break into clusters. 

     

    (Source: Kelsey Nixon, cookingchanneltv.com) 

     

     

     

    ALMOND PARMESAN ASPARAGUS 

     

    Prep: 2 minutes 

     

    Cook time: 10 minutes 

     

    Makes 4 servings  

     

     

     

    2 tablespoons butter 

     

    1 pound asparagus, bottoms trimmed 

     

    1/3 cup sliced almonds  

     

    1/3 cup Parmesan cheese 

     

     

     

  • Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add asparagus and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes. 

     

  • Stir in almonds and Parmesan and cook until cheese is slightly browned, about 3-5 minutes. 

     

    (Source: allrecipes.com) 

     

     

     

    GREEN BEANS WITH BROWNED BUTTER ALMONDINE 

     

     

     

    1 pound fresh green beans 

     

    3 tablespoons butter, divided 

     

    1/2 cup slivered sliced almonds 

     

    1-2 tablespoons of water or chicken broth 

     

    3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 

     

    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

     

    Juice of 1 lemon, to taste 

     

     

     

  • Trim the ends of the green beans and rinse well, set aside. 

     

  • In a large skillet over medium low heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the almonds and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring until the nuts and butter become fragrantly nutty and begin to brown.  

     

  • Add the green beans, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water or chicken broth to the pan to add more steam to the pan and cover with a lid and simmer until the beans are al dente, 4-5 minutes more, tossing the beans and almonds occasionally so the nuts don't burn.  

     

  • Add the remaining tablespoon of butter with the juice of 1/2 of the lemon, and season with more salt and pepper and toss. Add more lemon juice as desired.  

     

    (Source: foodiecrush.com)

     

  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

     

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