Visit the Spanish regions of Valencia or Alicante in the spring and a remarkable sight will greet you: a cascade of pale pink-white blossoms softening the bare flinty fields, as if cloaking them in an ornate bridal gown of extravagant proportions. These are the flowers of the almond tree that produces Marconas, one of Spain’s most highly prized crops.
Spanish Marcona almonds have a well-deserved reputation as the queen of almonds. They are richer in flavor, creamier, and more delicate in texture than their relatively scrawny California cousins. They are also higher in heart-healthy oleic acids and monounsaturated fatty acids, giving us yet another excuse to nosh on these addictive little morsels.
In Spain Marconas are commonly served as a savory snack. They are skinned, fried in oil, and then lightly salted. The resulting golden nuggets make the perfect accompaniment to a glass of wine or sherry. The Spanish also value this almond cultivar for its sweet flavor and creamy texture which makes it well suited to the myriad almond based candies and desserts for which this country is known: turron, mantecados, marzipan, polverones, and torta de Santiago to name just a few.
Unlike most on the US market, Matiz Marconas are fried in olive oil rather than vegetable oil. Olive oil acts as a natural preservative while the sunflower and peanut oils, used to fry cheaper Marconas, are lower in quality, flavorless, and quick to oxidize. Matiz Marconas are prepared in small 7-kilo batches with oil that is changed every 3-4 batches to maintain freshness. We select only almonds with a 14/16 caliber, which is the largest, most sought-after size available.
Fried and salted Marconas need no adornment. Try them once and you’ll fall head over heels. Besides consuming vast quantities in our offices, here are our favorite creative ways to use these beauties, courtsey of the Culinary Collective team:
Top 10 ways to use Marconas
1 – Perked up Paleo
Rich, buttery, and crunchy, our fried and salted Marconas make a quick and satisfying grain-free alternative to croutons on your next salad.
2 – Sophisticated Sundae
The crunchy-salty goodness of Marconas marries perfectly with a decadent chocolate or caramel sauce and smooth vanilla ice cream.
3 – Better than Butter
Blitz fried and salted Marconas in a food processor for the most luxurious chunky almond butter imaginable. Then slather it on, um, pretty much anything!
4 – Marcona del Mar
Fry your favorite white fish in a Marcona almond crust: Mix equal parts crushed Marconas with panko breadcrumbs. Dredge fillet in flour, then beaten egg, and finally the almond mixture; fry until golden and cooked through.
5 – Snack like a Spaniard
Combine salted Marconas with finely chopped rosemary and a dash of smoky pimenton and roast gently in the oven on low temperature. Serve with a glass chilled Fino or Manzanilla sherry.
6 – Salted Chocolate Marcona Bark
Melt dark Blanxart chocolate, spread on a sheet pan and sprinkle with salted Marconas. Add a smattering of sienna-colored Matiz Piment d’Espelette (Basque red pepper flakes) for a gorgeous edible gift.
7 – Pesto Party
Blend Marconas with olive oil, parmesan, garlic and you favorite leafy summer herb—think basil, parsley, arugula to name a few—for a seriously indulgent pesto.
8 – Smoky Almond Green Beans
Simmer green beans in just splash of water (not even enough to cover the beans), a pinch of salt, a little minced garlic, and a glug of Castillo de Canena Smoked Olive Oil: The water evaporates, the beans brown, and the garlic caramelizes. Toss with chopped Marconas.
9 – Top Class Toffee
For a Spanish spin on English toffee use Marconas in place of regular almonds. The intoxicating combo of crunchy, buttery, almond-studded toffee and silky smooth chocolate will have you swooning, Victorian damsel style. Quick, bring the smelling salts!
10 – Fuel for Foodies
Sitting in traffic or summiting a peak, Marconas make for a simple, nutritious, and seriously satisfying snack. Better yet take your trail mix to the next level by tossing Marconas with chunks of single origin Blanxart chocolate.
For more delicious ideas using Matiz Marcona Almonds, check out our recipes page.