Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Spanish Romesco Sauce


It tastes as foreign and thrilling as it sounds. Like any traditional European food- it originated in Spain- Romesco Sauce bears the essential hearty, fresh ingredients of Mediterranean kissed fine cuisine: fresh garlic, olive oil and tomato; rustic day-old Italian bread.  Add roasted red pepper, smoked paprika and almonds/hazelnuts to the mix, and you have yourself a sauce perfect for fish, tofu, or potatoes. 

My version came out a little breadier that I meant it to, and Romesco sauces usually exhibit a hearty red flavor (I can thank Trader Joe's roasted red and yellow pepper mix for my orangish hue). However, you really can't go wrong with the sauce, exactness is not required here. Also, feel free to skip the roasting before/after if you're in a rush. It's really that good. The coarse texture the ground nuts give to the sauce is really spectacular too.

Spanish Romesco Sauce (original Simply Recipes link here)
Yield: about 1 1/2 cups. Prep time: 5 minutes, Cook time: 20 minutes


Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil (because the almonds are high in fat, feel free to half this if your conscious of calories. I started out with 2 tbsp to saute, and added 1/2 tbsp before blending.)
1 1-inch thick slice of crusty bread, torn into pieces (I used a classic thick Italian)
1/2 cup blanched almonds, chopped or slivered (can substitute hazelnuts, peeled)
5-6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 15-ounce can of crushed tomatoes, or canned whole tomatoes (including the juice) that have been de-seeded, or 1 pound fresh tomatoes that have been par-boiled, skins removed, and de-seeded (I just used fresh grape tomatoes with skins + seeds.)
1 8-ounce jar of roasted red bell peppers, drained
1 Tbsp smoked paprika (preferred) or sweet paprika
2-3 Tbsp sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
Optional: crushed red pepper flakes if you like spice

    Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, sauté the bread and almonds, stirring often, until they just begin to brown. Add the garlic and sauté another 1-2 minutes, stirring once or twice.
    2.  Place the contents of the sauté pan into a food processor with the remaining ingredients—salt, tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, smoked paprika, vinegar (and crushed red pepper if desired.) Purée until smooth. Spread the sauce out on a rimmed sheet pan and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the edges begin to caramelize. Allow to cool and scrape into a container to store.
    To use romesco sauce, mix with pasta, shrimp, chicken or vegetables either before or after they are cooked, much like you would a pesto.*
    Kept in a sealed container, Romesco sauce will last for a week or more in the fridge. It freezes well, too. 

    *I find Romesco sauce a particularly tasty way to spice up flaky white fish. For this version I used mahi-mahi.

    2 comments:

    1. This dish is new to me, but it looks like something I need to try. Nothing like a having a good versatile sauce to perk up the main course.Thanks for sharing!

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    2. I made this for dinner tonight and served it over whole wheat linguine, roasted eggplant and roasted zucchini. Both my roommates agree that it is absolutely delicious and my apartment smells amazing!

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