Rosemary and sea salt roasted almonds

I'll bet you've bought your turkey. You may even have it brining or marinating right now. I'll bet you've got cranberries. And pumpkin puree. And probably enough potatoes to feed the neighborhood. I know I do.

This will be my first time hosting Thanksgiving. Know that when I say "hosting," I don't mean the entire extended family will be showing up at my doorstep at dinnertime expecting a great meal. Instead, I mean Mike, myself, and two of Mike's work friends will be there. I'm considering it a Thanksgiving practice run - a less-pressure Turkey Day that will prepare me for hosting a larger group in future years. And considering I've never actually roasted a turkey (because who roasts a whole turkey any other day of the year), I am grateful for that.

Nevertheless, I am prepared. I've got my "Thanksgiving Countdown" schedule that lists what needs to be prepped, baked, chilled and roasted at what time, for how long, and at what temperature. This might seem psychotic to some of you, but when I'm cool and collected while whisking gravy with one hand and mashing potatoes with the other, it's because I had a plan. Now let's just hope that turkey doesn't take longer than expected...
One thing many Thanksgiving chefs neglect is appetizers, and honestly, nobody's going to blame you if you do. If someone complains about a lack of snacks when you already have a big bird and 4+ sides to prepare in perfect synchrony, please escort them to the door. But these roasted almonds can easily be prepared days in advance, and they're fancy enough for guests.

There are a few major ways to roast nuts. One method uses a bit of oil or melted butter to coat the nuts and help the added flavors and spices stick. In fact, when nuts are heated, some of their natural oils are released, and extra oil may not be necessary if the spices are added halfway through the roasting time. This method - the one I used here - results in a more dry-roasted nut. Another method involves folding the nuts into whipped egg whites with whatever flavors you choose. This process creates a crunchy crust on the outside of the nut; you've probably eaten spiced cocktail nuts made this way. Both results are delicious, exceptionally easy, and so much cheaper than buying pre-roasted, spiced nuts. So go forth and get yourself a $9.99 bag of raw almonds from Costco, add your own flair, and impress your friends.

Rosemary and sea salt roasted almonds
Makes 3 cups

3 cups raw almonds
2 teaspoons oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons coarsely ground sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 300F. Scatter the raw almonds on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. 
  2. While the almonds are still hot, dump them into a bowl and toss with the oil to coat lightly. Add the rosemary and sea salt and toss again. Transfer the nuts back onto the baking sheet, sprinkling with any rosemary and salt left in the bottom of the bowl. 
  3. Return the nuts to the baking sheet and roast another 15 minutes. Let cool completely before eating for maximum crunch. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. 

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