You are probably heading to some sort of barbeque or gathering this weekend for the Fourth of July, and most likely you are wracking your brain for what to bring. Undoubtedly there will be a myriad of the traditional summer cookout staples: potato salad, coleslaw, burgers and dogs. The recipe I am featuring today is bound to break the monotony and add a little freshness to the classic cookout fare.
Romesco is a sauce hailing from the Northeast corner of Spain. It features sweet red bell peppers, roma tomatoes, ground almonds, garlic, and a few ubiquitous Spanish pantry staples. What's great about this sauce is that it pairs so well with everything such as chicken, shrimp, pork, fish, asparagus and beyond. It's piquant notes from the sherry vinegar and smoked paprika make it a delightfully different addition to virtually any dish. After it is made, it can be transformed into many other things as well, such as an incredible spread on sandwiches, or thinned out to make a very flavorful vinaigrette.
(This makes about 2 cups)
5 red peppers
3 roma tomatoes
1/2 cup raw almonds
3 garlic cloves,
1.5 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1/4 cup olive oil
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
It all starts by roasting all the vegetables. Sure, you can buy jarred roasted red peppers, but what fun is that? I simply oil, season and throw the red peppers and tomatoes on a sheet pan and roast in a 400 degree oven until the peppers are nicely roasted and charred in some spots, roughly 30-45 minutes. The garlic cloves and whole almonds go on a separate roasting tray and cook for about 10 minutes or so. If you prefer to use roasted almonds instead of raw, they don't need to go in the oven.
When the peppers and tomatoes are ready to come out of the oven, transfer to a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. This will allow them to steam and be easier to peel later on. After about 10 minutes or so, remove the vegetables from the bowl and peel off the outer clear skin of the peppers and the skin of the tomatoes, and do your best to remove as many of the seeds as possible.
You now have all your ingredients to incorporate in the food processor. Start with the almonds and process to a fine crumb. Add all the remaining ingredients except the oil. Puree the mixture while adding in the oil in a slow stream until everything is incorporated. Don't feel like you need to use all the oil. You may like it a little bit more on the chunkier side, so blend it to your preference. Transfer the mixture to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. It may become a staple in your fridge because of its versatility. If you need more thn two cups, feel green to double or triple the recipe.
This sauce can be used right away, but seems to benefit from 24 hours in the fridge. It can be kept in the fridge for up to a week, and freezes exceptionally well in an appropriate container. Make this sauce your own! This is the way I have always made it, but upon further research, I have seen many different recipes, none of which are the same. Some have more tomato than red pepper, some use jarred roasted red peppers and canned tomatoes. The bottom line : find your comfort zone and own it. Make this sauce your own version to suit your taste. I'm always here if you have a question.
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Happy 4th of July and Happy Cooking!