How do you toast almonds?--Katie
Almonds or other nuts can be toasted either in the oven or on the stove top. Toasting nuts makes them crunchier and adds to the complexity of their flavor. Some nuts, like pecans, become lighter and almost crumbly.
To toast them in the oven, preheat it to 350°F (180 °C). Spread the nuts evenly in a single layer on a cookie sheet, preferably the kind with a rolled edge, which will help keep them from rolling off, and cook them for about 5 minutes. During that time, turn them once or twice with a spatula so that all sides get cooked. The nuts are done when they have taken on a light coffee brown color. If necessary, toast them longer, but take care not to allow them to over-cook, as that can make them bitter. For nuts that are already brown in color, like walnuts and pecans, be especially careful as it may be hard to see much of a color change.
Alternately, place the nuts into a dry frying pan over medium heat to cook them. Toss or stir them occasionally, until they start to color, as above.
When the nuts are done, remove them to a clean plate or other surface to cool off. Do not leave them in the pan, or on the cookie sheet, as the residual heat can cause them to become over-cooked.
The Joy of Cooking also says that you can toast nuts in the microwave by spreading them on a microwave safe dish and cooking them uncovered for 2 to 4 minutes. They will become more aromatic, but not brown. I have never tried this method, myself.
Toasted nuts can be chopped by hand immediately, but if you are going to grind them in a food processor, it is best to let them cool down completely, first.