Friday, July 1, 2011

Romesco Sauce: Five Minutes in the Food processor, Two Meals

Article first published as Romesco Sauce: One Sauce Equals Two Divine Meals on Blogcritics.

Have you tried Romesco Sauce?  It’s very popular in the Catalan region of Spain and there are as many variations as there are versions of Italian “Sunday Gravy”.  It is so quick, easy, flavor and nutrient-packed, and made with ingredients you probably have on hand.  In addition to being inexpensive, quick, and so easy, it is packed with Fiber, Omega 3’s, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and other antioxidants. 

Romesco is basically a thick puree of roasted red peppers, nuts and sherry vinegar.  I promise you, it is sublimely easy and so yummy, you’ll want to use some crusty bread to sop every bit of it off your plate.  It is a perfect complement to chicken, lamb, fish, or grilled vegetables.  Here is a quick version I made recently to rave reviews from my family, but you can change out herbs, spices, nuts, and acidity components to make it your own.  This recipe makes a large enough batch that it will work for 2 meals for 2-4 people.   If you’re entertaining or want more, simply double it.  I made this with grilled Lemon and Herb Chicken and Farmer’s Market Wax and Green Beans the first night.  Then, I tossed the rest with whole wheat pasta, shrimp, sautéed veggies, and a little chicken stock the next night for a completely different take.  Both were delicious and on the table in less than 30 minutes.  Paired with some crisp white wine and finished with some fresh fruit sorbet, we all left the table happy and healthy, two nights in a row!  Enjoy!

1 stale roll or ½ stale mini baguette, torn into small pieces
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp Spanish Paprika
Black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp Sherry vinegar
2-3 red bell peppers, roasted with charred skins removed (or 1 jar roasted peppers)
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and cored
handful of flat leaf parsley, stems removed
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

It’s time to haul out your food processor!  This thick, luscious, raw sauce comes together in a snap with the help of the fast moving blades.  First, place the stale bread bits, garlic, almonds, salt/pepper and spices in the process or whirl until everything is finely ground.  Prep your tomatoes by slicing in half lengthwise, and then removing the juicy innards and core, leaving only the fleshy out part.  Add that to the food processor with the roasted peppers (if jarred, drain first), and the parsley, and continue to blend until fairly uniform.  While processor is going, drizzle in the EVOO slowly to fully emulsify.  Taste and adjust salt, pepper, and spices to your preference.  Because this sauce is thick, I like to spoon it onto the serving plate or platter, spread it out a bit with the back of the spoon, and then lay your cooked protein on top.  Garnish with a bit of parsley, basil or rosemary for a gorgeous presentation.  I’m eating light, but if you want a heartier meal, pair it with fresh veggies and some basmati rice, cooked polenta, or warm flatbread.  So indulgent!  

By the way, if you wish to roast your own peppers, and don’t know how, here are some easy-peasy step-by-step instructions.  These are so easy and have much less salt than the bottled version and a great way to use up those extra peppers in your garden.   Here is the link:

If you like this sauce and you’re feeling creative, try a few variations.  You could use yellow or orange peppers and tomatoes to change the color profile and slightly enhance the sweetness.  Try smoked paprika is you want to push the smoky profile of the dish.  Sub out rosemary, basil or oregano for the parsley or try pine nuts or hazelnuts in lieu of the almonds. Sherry vinegar is the Spanish classic, but any wine-based or balsamic vinegar would work.  Have fun with it, use what you have available, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box!

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