The almond sauce in this recipe is easy to make and can be used with a variety of food. I used mushrooms, but you could easily serve almond sauce over fish, chicken, asparagus…just about anything you can think of. You will often see it served over meatballs like these. No matter what you pour the sauce over, make sure to serve with bread so you can sop up every bit of flavor!
You’ll need blanched almonds to make the almond sauce. Fortunately it’s easy to do at home. Just pour boiling water over the almonds and allow to stand until they cool down enough to handle. The skins will slip right off. You’ll also need a nice dry white wine and chicken broth. I’m not going to name the wine we used, but you may recognize the label. (It’s one of the few white wines we drink as Rick is of the opinion the best white wine is a red…an opinion shared by his Spanish cousins).
Garlic, saffron, parsley and paprika are also part of sauce. As you can imagine, it’s very flavorful. You’ll often find recipes that call for fresh bread crumbs, but this one from the Williams Sonoma website doesn’t use them.
The sauce uses a paste, which is called a picada and there are many variations (Read more about it at Wikipedia). All of them are used to flavor a soup or sauce. I asked Rick about it, as he uses the mortar and pestle frequently, and he said (with a shrug) it was just what his mother and grandmother did when they made certain dishes.
You can make the paste with a food processor or do it the old fashioned way, in a mortar and pestle. It takes awhile to do it this way and it’s best not to add too many nuts to the mortar at once as they tend to jump back out (ask me how I know). Crush the ingredients as finely as possible for a smoother sauce. You’ll get a work out if you use the mortar and pestle. It took me about 5 minutes to crush everything. The end result looks like soup base, which I suppose it is.
Serve mushrooms and almond sauce as a tapa or increase the amount of sauce and ladle it over a little rice, as we did, for a light lunch.
- 1 pack (8 ounces) button mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and cut into quarters
For the picada:
- 1/4 cup blanched almonds
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika (I use the sweet kind for this)
- 1 pinch saffron threads, crushed
- salt and pepper to taste
For the sauce:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup minced onion (a medium onion)
- 1/2 – 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup chicken broth (use vegetable broth if desired)
- Blanch the almonds by covering with boiling water and allowing to cool down. Then slip off the skins.
- Make the picada. Put the blanched almonds, garlic, parsley, paprika, saffron and some salt and pepper to a food processor. Pulse until it is a fine paste (it’s ok to add a little olive oil or chicken broth to help the process along). If using a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic with the salt and other seasonings first, then add the almonds a few at a time, crushing them finely.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the onions until they begin to soften.
- Add the white wine, broth, and picada. Stir to mix well.
- Add the mushroom and simmer slowly until the mushrooms are cooked through and the sauce has reduced slightly.
- Taste to adjust the seasoning before serving.
Feel free to finish the bottle of wine…you wouldn’t want it to go to waste, would you?