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Romesco sauce

So I made this sauce to go with greek chicken, but it has so many more possibilities. It took me a while to make it taste good, I kept adding a little of this and a little of that. It had just the right amount of heat, and the flavor improved the next day. I actually made it a day ahead. I started with 4 little tomatoes, and a few pieces of home roasted red bell peppers. It ALMOST tasted too red peppery, so the equivalent of 1/2 of a bell pepper is best. I only used almonds, and I burnt them a tiny bit. You couldn’t tell though once they got pulverized in the food processor. I also broiled the garlic, and I roasted the red peppers ahead of time because I was using them for something else. Next I’ll be serving the sauce with bruschetta, and it would also be good with veggies or potatoes. My family enjoyed mixing the sauce with my edamame feta salad. It never got totally smooth, but I guess it’s not supposed to. After messing with the sauce a lot, it ended up tasting really good.

Romesco (Catalan Pepper Sauce), by Paige Vandegrift adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyoneby Deborah Madison (also adapted again by Katrina)

4 Roma tomatoes

1 red bell pepper

1 slice  Country-style white bread, cubed (I used some crusty white bread I had in the freezer)

3-5 cloves of garlic (I used 4 small cloves)

1/4 cup almonds, roasted

1/4 cup hazelnuts, roasted and peeled (after roasting, the peelings kind of just come right off, put them in a dry dish towel and roll them around, most of the skins will come off)

1 to 2 teaspoons ground red chile or red pepper flakes (I used 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes)

1 to 3 teaspoons sweet paprika (I used 2 teaspoons)

1 to 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (I used red wine 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

Preheat the broiler.  Rub tomatoes and red pepper with a bit of olive oil (oops, I forgot that) and broil until beginning to blacken and the skins split—2-4 minutes on each size.  Cool.  Peel and seed the pepper. (It peeled perfectly.  I did not sweat the pepper in a paper bag or rinse it under running water–Paige says not to do that–you’re washing away all the flavor!)  Peel and core and seed the tomatoes.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat some olive oil (the 2 tablespoons) and fry the bread cubes until golden and crisp.  Set aside to cool.  When cool, grind the bread with the nuts, garlic and chili flakes in the food processor.  Add the tomatoes and pepper and the paprika and puree until smooth.  With the machine running, gradually add the oil and then the vinegar.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  (If you want it even a little spicier, add some cayenne pepper to taste.  I thought it was PLENTY warm as I made it, Kevin on the other hand, didn’t think it was even lukewarm.  He’s weird that way! 😉

Serve with steamed or grilled seasonal vegetables (potatoes, asparagus, green beans, beets, carrots, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, etc.)

Makes a generous 2 cups.  (Freezes well.)

Note:  You may substitute almonds for the hazelnuts (using 1/2 cup almonds total.)

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