Marcona Almonds Are Ina Garten's Go-To For An Even More Flavorful Crunch

Dubbed the "Queen of Almonds," Marcona almonds come with a passport. Originating in Spanish orchards, these nuts are different from regular almonds in several ways and according to her "Cook Like A Pro" cookbook, they just happen to be Ina Garten's go-to when she wants a little more flavorful crunch. Marcona almonds are round, smooth, and flatter than their American relatives. They are typically blanched to remove the skins, fried or roasted, and salted. The result is a beautiful buttery and sweet-tasting nut that is both creamy and crunchy in texture.

The Barefoot Contessa uses these Marcona almonds in her maple-roasted carrot salad recipe, which includes roasted carrots, arugula, cranberries soaked in OJ, and creamy goat cheese, giving it a nice contrast of color and texture. But Marcona almonds are for so much more than salads. They can be a focal point for a charcuterie board. Pair them with some of your favorite meats, fruits, and cheeses. What cheeses? They are so versatile, that you will find that complement most cheese selections.

Sweet and savory

But if you prefer the sweet to the savory, add these regal nuts to a dessert for a truly elegant experience. Marcona almonds taste delicious in cookies, cakes, pastries, and even ice cream. That buttery flavor makes them perfect for baked goods. If you want to add these nuts to something sweet, try using them in the summer with roasted apricots with wine, cream, and almonds. In the fall, butternut squash with Marcona almonds offers a beautiful contrast in textures. This recipe purees the butternut squash, adding sweet components like brown sugar and honey, and calls for a sprinkling of these coarsely chopped almonds to finish it off. 

You can swap Marcona almonds in any recipe that calls for regular almonds with a one-to-one substitution. Use these nuts in your next pear almond tart or Ricciarelli Tuscan almond cookie for a little bit of a savory vibe.

Marcona almonds are not cheap, so make certain you store them properly. Humidity is not a friend to these nuts, nor is heat. Keep them in a sealed, airtight container in a dry, cool location and they will keep for a couple of months.