Right now I’m relishing all the signs of spring that I can eat. Asparagus and ramps are finally at the local farmers markets, rhubarb is on the way, and I just stumbled upon green almonds yesterday, a sight that perked me up more than any amount of caffeine possibly could.
Yes, green almonds. If you’ve never had them, they’re fuzzy light-green orbs filled with soft jelly-like skinless almonds—soft and delicately nutty with a wholly different texture than fully mature almonds. When fresh, they can be eaten whole. They’re crunchy, tart, and reminiscent of unripe peaches (in a good way!). When the outer layer is removed, the young almonds are delicate, milky, and subtly floral and grassy.
Leave a green almond on the tree and it loses its fuzz, hardens, and turns brown. Crack the hard outer shell and you’ll find a conventional, crunchy almond you’re likely very familiar with. (Fun fact: Botanically speaking, almonds aren’t nuts. They’re actually stone fruits, and the almonds we all snack on are the seeds within the stones of the fuzzy green fruit.)
Green almonds pop up at some farmers markets and specialty stores in early spring, and only stick around for a few weeks, so they’re an extra special treat if you can find them. (Right now in New York, I know they’re available at Eataly, Kalustyan’s, Dean and Deluca, and Sahadi’s in Brooklyn.)
Keep green almonds stored in the fridge for up to three weeks. Make sure taste them as time passes—the longer they sit, the more likely it is the outer husk will harden and taste bitter, in which case you’ll need to discard them and only eat the tender almonds.
Green almonds are super versatile. I love eating them whole, pressed into flaky sea salt. I also love them with cheese and cured meats, or you can chop them up and toss them into salads. Or make a chunky, pesto-y sauce by mixing them with herbs, garlic chives or green garlic, and olive oil (spoon this over asparagus, eggs, or fish). Pickle them, even!
They’re good on sweet things, too. A simple dessert could be some dates, green almonds, and flaky sea salt. Tarts and ice cream could benefit from some chopped green almonds sprinkled on top.
I’m newly obsessed with pairing them with ricotta and honeycomb, a tip I picked up from the Ducksoup cookbook (another recent obsession of mine). And one of my all-time favorite ways to eat them is poached in olive oil and showered in fresh dill. I first tried them this way at a restaurant in Istanbul and immediately asked for the recipe. I’ve been using it ever since.