Growing up, family meals, especially holidays and celebrations, were preceded by "Party Time" when my dad would mix cocktails (or Shirley Temples for the kids) and we'd snack on hors d'oeuvres while my mom finished the cooking. For my first Christmas in our new home (last year) and the first time we really had the space to spread out, I wanted to have a festive array set out for Party Time. With two small children, I guessed that Christmas Dinner would be delayed, even with the best planning, and I was right. We didn't eat until almost 10:00! Thank goodness we had plenty to tide us over while I finished the main course!
2 cups whole almonds, with the skin
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 or 2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat the oven to 325.
In a medium bowl, combine the almonds with 2 tablespoons water and the salt, tossing to coat evenly. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and bake 8 minutes.
Remove from the oven and drizzle the olive oil over the nuts. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to mix the nuts until the oil is thoroughly incorporated. Sprinkle the pepper flakes and garlic powder onto the almonds and mix to coat well.
Return the almonds to the oven and bake 5-6 minutes more, stirring after 3 minutes to ensure even cooking. Remove from oven and let cool.
Almonds will keep in an airtight container up to 1 week.
Recipe adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Bride & Groom Cookbook, by Gayle Pirie & John Clark.