Slivered almonds make a great addition to poultry and seafood dishes, salads, veggie sides, certain pastas, baked goods, plenty of desserts and other dishes. They add some crunch for textural variety, a nutty and earthy flavor, and an impressive nutritional profile that includes ample plant-based protein, fiber, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and other nutrients. While packaged slivered almonds aren't hard to find in food stores, you can always make them yourself if you have only whole almonds on hand, if you don't want to pay extra for the convenience item or if you just enjoy the DIY process.
Blanching Whole Raw Almonds
The best way to make slivered almonds at home is simply to slice them with a knife. But if you try to do this with raw or roasted almonds, they'll just shatter into pieces. The solution is to blanch raw almonds to soften them just enough for slicing.
Put the raw almonds in a heat-proof bowl and bring enough water to a boil to fully submerse them. Pour the water over the nuts, let them soak for three minutes, then drain. And that's all there is to it.
Peeling the Blanched Almonds
You don't have to peel the blanched almonds – their brown skins are edible – but it's generally better to do so. For starters, if you make slivered almonds without peeling them, you'll end up with lots of papery bits of skin that are messy and not too appealing in a dish. Also, the skins can impart a tannic, slightly bitter taste to the dishes you add them to.
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Peeling is easy, but potentially a little tedious if you're working with lots of almonds since you have to peel one almond at a time. Think of it as a meditative activity. Once the nuts are blanched and cool enough to squeeze, all you have to do is pinch them between your thumb and index finger and they'll slide right out of their clothing. Peel away any remaining flecks of skin.
Chopping the Nuts Into Almond Slivers
Place the blanched, peeled almonds on a cutting board pointing away from you. The best tool for cutting the almonds into slivers is a high-quality, sharp chef's knife. Place your non-dominant hand over the tip of the knife to hold it in place while you slice the almonds three to five times lengthwise, using the back end of the blade and a rocking motion.
This can be a little tricky at first since the almonds aren't flat. If you're not all that experienced at chopping with a chef's knife, you're bound to have some nuts bounce away and some flying pieces at first. But as long as you hold the tip of the knife in place by laying your palm on top of it and keeping your dominant hand on the handle, you should be safe from injury.
If the nuts aren't soft enough and are breaking apart, blanch them again for another minute or so. Also, sharpen the knife blade if it's not in good condition – this is crucial to clean chopping. And make sure you cut through the nuts with a flowing, quick, forceful downward rocking motion – not by striking them with the blade or using any sort of sawing motion.
Toasting the Slivered Almonds
As you probably noticed while cutting them, blanched almond slivers are kind of soft, damp and lifeless. To restore their crunch and color, and to enhance their flavor, toast the slivered almond pieces.
It is really easy to overcook and burn thin almond pieces. The best way to toast them when they're still damp while minimizing the risk of burning is in the oven. Heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spread out the almond slivers on a baking tray.
If you want, dust them with salt, pepper, cayenne powder or other herbs or spices that complement the dish you are adding the nuts to. Put the baking tray of nuts into the center of the oven for about three to five minutes, tossing them a few times just until they start to turn golden brown. Remove them from the hot baking tray promptly to prevent overcooking, which happens fast; then spread them out to cool.
Eric Mohrman is a food and drink, lifestyle, and travel writer. He spent 10 years working front- and back-of-house in a few casual and upscale restaurants, adding professional experience to his love of eating and cooking. He lives with his family in Orlando, Florida. His stories on food and beverage topics have appeared in numerous print and web publications, including Visit Florida, Orlando Style Magazine, CrushBrew Magazine, Agent Magazine, Dollar Stretcher Magazine, The 863 Magazine and others.