My friend told me about this incredible appetizer that her friend brought to a dinner: olives and almonds roasted with a bunch of spices and bay leaves. I think I thought it sounded interesting more than anything else. And I have to be honest, I took my first bite with caution. But what a surprise! They were gone in seconds. Note to all of you: it’s a bad idea (read: extremely awful, horrible) to eat this within 15 minutes of any meal that contains tehina. You WILL get a stomach ache. But really, the almonds are nutty and smoky, the olives are almost tangy and the fried rosemary and other spices calm everything down. Think of this as the sophisticated sister to shlumpy popcorn, homely chips, or whatever treat your normally snack on. Serve it with a spoon though because you definitely don’t want everyone’s hands reaching into the bowl and pulling out oil-covered fingers.

What you need:

1 cup raw almonds

1/2 cup black olives, greek olives, green olives or whatever your favorite olive flavor is

1/2 tsp red wine vinegar (optional)

a pinch of salt (really, just a pinch or you’ll be sorry)

1 bay leaf

1 tblsp rosemary

1-2 tblsp olive oil

1/2 tsp lemon; zested

1/2 tsp cumin (if I were doing this again, I might try a little more cumin than this)

How to do this:

Preheat your oven to 325 F. Heat up the oil in a frying pan over med/high heat for about two minutes. Add the rosemary and toss them with the oil. Just take a second and breathe this in. It smells so good. Reduce heat to medium and add the almonds, tossing them with the oil and rosemary until covered. Let them roast for about ten minutes or until they become a golden brown like this:

Add the bay leaf. Step away from the pan if you don’t need to be near it or you’ll get burned from oil. At this point, the almonds should begin to be making a frightening popping sound. This is good. Remember to stir every two minutes or so so that the almonds don’t burn. Add the olives and the red wine vinegar (if you’re using it). Mix in well. Remove from heat and wait a minute or two. Then add the lemon zest, cumin and salt. Spread out on parchment paper like this:

and roast for 30 minutes. Give the pan a good shake every ten minutes so nothing burns. Serve warm.

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