Ofer Guez’s spaghetti aglio e olio in ground almonds and green peas is creamy yet light. Photograph: Jill Mead for the GuardianAdd a shake of this storecupboard stalwart to bakes, batters, curries and sauces for a coarsely sweet texture.Ground almonds are, to my mind, a bit of a storecupboard staple, simply because they have so much to give: a creamy, nutty taste, a crumbly texture to some bakes, and a soft, smooth and absorbent quality to others. And what's more, they open up a whole world of rich cakes and dishes to the gluten- and dairy-intolerant.
To begin: cakes. Diane Kitchen's tarta de Santiago is fantastically simple to make and a great recipe to add to your pudding repertoire. Look for the traditional Cruz de Santiago template online to decorate, or just simply dust with icing sugar. Meanwhile, Maryam Sin's fragrant almond, rosewater, walnut and cardamom cake takes a little more effort, but the flavours only improve with time " so great for making ahead of an occasion. Making the most of seasonal cherries is Lepetitoeuf's twist on the classic clafoutis. The ground almonds and coconut milk add interest and texture to the usually bland batter, while a drizzle of maple syrup gives all the sweetness you need with no refined sugar. Macaroon-like Norwegian almond cake from Kjersti Byrkjeland was gobbled up in minutes, thanks to the delightfully rich, boozy egg cream.
On to savoury, and Rakesh Bargota's lentil and almond curry proved to be brilliant comfort food, with the ground almonds adding a little creaminess to the gently spiced lentils; something I'll look forward to batch-cooking in the winter months. This week's winner, though, is one of those recipes I just know I'll turn to again and again: a pasta dish that's elegant, satisfying and 100% dairy-free. The ground almonds soak up the thin sauce, turning it into something glossy and clinging, whilst the peas and basil bring a pop of freshness. Thank you, Ofer Guez.
Spaghetti aglio e olio in ground almonds and green peas
This dish has the richness of a pasta in parmesan and cream sauce, but is lighter and more refreshing thanks to the use of ground almonds and milk.
Ofer Guez, London
3 shallots, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
Zest of 2 lemons
175ml olive oil
120ml white wine
120ml almond milk
300g green peas, fresh or frozen
100g ground almonds
Pumpkin-seed or basil oil, to serve
Basil or tarragon, to serve
1 Put the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water and cook to al dente, while you make the sauce.
2 Put the shallots, whole smashed garlic cloves and lemon zest in a frying pan with a little salt, then add the olive oil, cooking until the shallots are translucent but not browned, and the oil is infused with the lemon zest and garlic.
3 Add the wine and almond milk; let it reduce a little. Remove the garlic cloves (you can use them later on bruschetta or in a mash). Add the peas, and cook until just done " they should still remain crisp and green.
4 Add the pasta to the pan and stir, mixing well with the sauce and the peas, so the sauce is coating the spaghetti evenly. Add half the ground almonds, mix well and spread evenly so they cling to the spaghetti. Add the second half and stir well. To serve, drizzle with the pumpkin-seed or basil oil, then scatter with herbs.
Mini cherry clafoutis
40g melted butter, plus extra for greasing
75g white spelt flour
1 lemon, zest only
2 large eggs, gently beaten
175ml coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
350g cherries, pitted, or 4 per clafoutis
Maple syrup, to drizzle
1 Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7, then grease the muffin tin well with the extra butter.
2 Sift the flour and almonds into a mixing bowl, then add the lemon zest. Add the eggs and whisk until combined into a thick paste.
3 Add about 30ml coconut milk to your bowl and whisk it until well-combined and smooth (scrape the lumps out of your whisk). Add another portion of coconut milk and whisk until smooth. Continue this process, adding more milk each time until all the coconut milk is combined and you have a smooth batter. Now mix in the butter and vanilla extract.
4 Roughly fill each muffin-tin hole nearly to the top with cherries, but don't squish or push them in; just loosely fill it. Now pour the batter in until it comes level with the top of the cherries.
5 Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the top has taken on a light colour. Remove from the oven, run a knife around the edge of each muffin hole and then remove the clafoutis by either inverting the pan on to a plate, or gently easing them out with a plastic spatula. Serve warm with a drizzle of maple syrup.
Norwegian almond cake
This was the birthday cake my mum made throughout my childhood and it is still one of my favourites. It should be no surprise that the humble almond is the star of this fantastic cake.
Kjersti Byrkjeland, via GuardianWitness
1 tbsp flour
200g icing sugar
200g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
5 egg whites
For the egg cream
2 tsp powdered gelatine
5 egg yolks
A few drops of rum essence
Grated dark chocolate, for topping
1 Preheat the oven to 180C/375F/gas mark 5, then grease and line a 23cm cake tin. Sift the flour and icing sugar and mix into the ground almonds and baking powder. Mix the egg whites gently with the almond mixture, tip into the cake tin then cook for 30-45 minutes, until golden and cooked through.
2 To make the egg cream, first dissolve the gelatine following packet instructions, then set aside. Mix the egg yolks, sugar and cream in a small saucepan, heat to barely simmering, then let the mix cool down. In another bowl, add the dissolved gelatine to the butter and stir well, then add this to the egg cream, little by little. Add some drops of rum essence for flavour.
3 Split the cake in two and fill it with the egg cream, when it's beginning to firm up. Spread the remaining cream on the top and around the cake and grate some dark chocolate on top.
Lentil and almond curry
A truly aromatic, soft and spicy curry that has a crunchy and nutty taste.
Rakesh Bargota, Birmingham
200g yellow split lentils, rinsed and drained
15g fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 level tsp cumin seeds
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
75g ground almonds
1 tbsp mild curry powder
A handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
Salt and black pepper
1 Add the washed lentils to 500ml cold water, place on medium heat to boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Allow the lentils to simmer for 3-4 minutes, stirring now and then. You will notice a white froth appearing on top " using a spoon, carefully skim this and discard.
2 Stir in the chopped ginger and continue to simmer for about 25-35 minutes, or until the lentils have softened and broken down a little. Remove from the heat and set aside.
3 Take a heavy-based, nonstick frying pan and heat the oil for 2-3 minutes over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds until they start to crackle, then turn down the heat as they begin to do so, and add the chilli and onion and fry these until lightly browned. Add the sliced garlic, cook for about 1 minute, and then throw in the ground almonds and continuously stir these on a gentle heat for around 1-2 minutes until you start to smell the nutty aroma. At this stage, add the curry powder, then the boiled lentils, stirring constantly, until they start to bubble again. Reduce heat.
4 Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally; the almonds should swell up and thicken the curry. If the mixture gets too thick, you can thin it with water/almond milk/milk.
5 Now, remove from heat and, using a ladle, scoop into a serving bowl(s). Season and garnish with a little of the chopped coriander leaves in each bowl and serve with hot buttered nan and/or basmati rice.
Tarta de Santiago
We first had this to celebrate our arrival in Santiago de Compostela after cycling the Camino de Santiago. The key element of the cake is the Cruz de Santiago (St James Cross) which gives the cake its name. This recipe was given to me by my dear friend Esther Agudo and, like all good recipes, it works every time and tastes delicious.
Diane Kitchen, Ilkley
250g caster sugar
250g ground almonds
½ tsp cinnamon
Zest of half a lemon
5 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp icing sugar, for the topping
1 Heat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3, then grease and line a 22cm loose-bottomed cake tin.
2 Put the sugar, almonds, cinnamon and lemon zest into a large bowl and mix well with a fork. Add the beaten eggs and stir until everything is thoroughly combined.
3 Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 40-50 minutes, until the top is golden. Leave to cool before taking out of the tin.
4 If you'd like to decorate it traditionally, cut out a template of a St James cross and lay it on top of the cake. Sieve the icing sugar over the template and remove carefully to reveal the shape of the cross.
Almond-rosewater and walnut-cardamom zebra cake
My luscious cake was inspired by the flavours of my mum's Nowruz (Persian New Year) baked goods. The whole house filled with the aroma of rosewater and the cardamom seeds that she ground to flavour her bghlav (Persian almond baklavas) and other sweets. She made walnut cookies, tiny mulberry-shaped marzipans (t"t), saffron-almond lozenges (l"z) and lots more. I made my cake gluten-free so more people can enjoy it. The trick is to use a bit of rice flour to give body to the batter. The recipe makes a very large cake good for a party.
Maryam Sin, via GuardianWitness
For the almond-rosewater batter
200g ground almonds
30g rice flour
A large pinch of salt
¼ tsp baking powder
4 large eggs, separated
225g caster sugar
250ml olive oil
4 tbsp rosewater
A few drops of almond essence (optional)
For the walnut-cardamom batter
200g ground walnuts
½ tsp ground cardamom seeds
20g rice flour
¼ tsp baking powder
A large pinch of salt
4 large eggs, separated
225g caster sugar
250ml olive oil
Icing sugar, to decorate
30g flaked almonds
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Line a 30cm springform cake tin with baking paper and very lightly oil the sides.
2 To make the almond batter, mix the ground almonds with the rice flour, salt and baking powder, then beat the egg whites in a separate, grease-free dry bowl until stiff peaks form.
3 Beat the sugar with the olive oil in another bowl for two minutes. Add the yolks one by one, beating well after each addition (about a minute). Beat in the rosewater and almond essence (if using), then add the almond mixture by spoonfuls and beat after each addition to mix well. Add " of the batter to the whipped egg whites and gently fold to mix. Repeat until all the batter is mixed with the whites. Set aside.
4 To make the walnut batter, mix the ground walnuts, cardamom, rice flour, baking powder and salt, then mix the rest of the ingredients in the same ways as you did for the almond batter.
5 To make the zebra pattern in the cake tin, pour one cupful of the almond batter in the tin. Wait until it spreads a little. Pour a cupful of the walnut batter in the center of the almond batter and wait for a few seconds so it spreads a little, too. Continue alternating walnut and almond batters until all batter is used up, then bake the cake for 50 minutes in the centre of the oven or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides and remove the ring from the bottom of the tin. Invert the cake on a cooling rack and carefully remove the baking paper. Let the cake cool completely before transferring to a plate.
6 To decorate, put a paper doily on top of the cake and liberally sprinkle with icing sugar, then carefully lift off the doily. Put the flaked almonds in a small heavy frying pan, add the sugar and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring all the time, until the sugar melts and the almond flakes are golden. Put mounds of the mix in the middle and around the edge of the cake. Enjoy with a cup of strong tea or coffee.