Thanksgiving is approaching faster than we know it, so I’m going to start sharing some of my tried and true holiday favorites. Appetizers are often the last thing people think of when it comes to holiday entertaining, but they’re actually an integral part of the meal. I like having them available so everyone has a snack to enjoy while waiting on the main attraction. This is especially helpful in case your turkey isn’t done when it should be or you need additional time to make the finishing touches on your sides.
When Eric and I hosted our Friendsgiving party last year, these almonds were the first thing to disappear (and that’s not just because they were the first thing served). The beauty of these is in their simplicity. Crunchy almonds flecked with thyme, coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. That’s it. They’re easy to snack on while drinking a glass of wine, and they pair wonderfully with a variety of cheeses (we served ours with Capricho de Cabra). Because they can be made ahead of time, they’re a great item to have on your holiday menu. Just be careful if you make them too far in advance because they might disappear before Thanksgiving arrives.
If you can't find blanched almonds, you can blanch your own by placing raw almonds in a bowl and covering with boiling water. Allow to sit for one minute, then drain and rinse under cold water. Turn onto a tea towel. Squeeze each almond between fingers to slip skin off.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add almonds and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and light golden, 10-12 minutes. Stir in thyme and remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste, then pour onto a rimmed baking sheet to cool completely. Once cool, store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.