Recipe from The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook by Kim O’Donnel (Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2010)This almond, garlic, and roasted pepper-scented puree hails from Catalan, in the northeastern part of Spain, along the Mediterranean coast. You can spread it on grilled bread, use it as a dip for roasted veg, or eat it right from the spoon. Don't worry if you don't have all the peppers listed below; if red bell peppers are all you get, this elixir, er sauce, will still make you swoon. A note on peppers: Ancho chiles are dried poblanos, which will yield a sweeter, almost raisin-y result; fresh roasted poblanos will deliver more smoke.
HERE'S WHAT YOU DO:
- 1 (1-pound) loaf country-style bread
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded (See page 194 for roasting tips.)
- 3 dried ancho chile peppers, soaked for 1 hour, drained, seeded, and roughly chopped, or 2 fresh poblano chile peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded (either is optional but really nice)
- 1 small piece fresh serrano or jalapeño pepper (1/2 to 1 inch long), seeded and minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup almonds and/or hazelnuts, roasted
- 2 to 3 plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded (I use canned whole plum tomatoes, drained)
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar or lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional; particularly useful in absence of poblano or ancho chile peppers)
In a skillet, fry one 1-inch slice of the bread (crusts removed) in 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and allow to cool. Place all the peppers in the bowl of a food processor, along with the garlic, nuts, and the fried bread slice. Use the "pulse" button to insure that mixture does not overpuree; you want some texture.
Add the tomatoes, then the remaining oil and vinegar. The mixture will emulsify quickly. Add the salt and cayenne, and smoked paprika, if appropriate. If the mixture is too thick, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water. The mixture should be thick but also have a slightly liquidy quality. Taste for salt, heat, and acid and season accordingly.
Slice one to two pieces of the remaining bread per serving and grill or toast to serve with romesco. Gets better on the second and third day; keeps for about five days.
Makes about 2 cups