Saturday, 28 March 2015

Salsa Romesco - Romesco sauce

Dazzled by the stunning springtime sunshine I was so very convinced it was only a matter of time before it was time to kick off the BBQ season. How very premature of me - now there's snow on the ground. Not much, mind you, but THERE'S SNOW ON THE GROUND!

It's coming, though, I'm sure of it. So, let's get carried away and start preparing for the summer, then! Today's recipe is Salsa Romesco, a grateful companion to picnics and BBQ parties.

Romesco sauce hails from Tarragona (oh, the strange logic of languages: Romesco doesn't come from Rome and Tarragona is not the home of tarragon...) in Catalonia where the fishermen have traditionally been whipping it up as a condiment to fish. It's got so much body though it can take on just about any BBQ treat. During springtime in Catalonia it's served as a dip for calçot, a local spring onion that's charred and then peeled to reveal the soft, succulent inside.

It's also related to Syrian muhammara that's you've already been introduced to on the blog and great as a sauce, dip, on sandwiches... sky's the limit. You can adjust the heat based on the type and quantity of chilli you use and if you want it milder, just add more almonds. Traditionally the sauce is thickened using a slice of stale bread, but this recipe only uses almonds making it suitable for gluten-free diners as well. For a runnier sauce add oil (I prefer canola oil owing to its neutral flavour).

Romesco sauce:

2 medium red peppers
1/2 dl (30 pcs) blanched almonds
5 roasted garlic cloves
1 Spanish Nora pepper, soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes 
(or 1/2-1 large red chilli, depending on your palate)
1/2 tsp pimentón
1 roasted tomato
1-2 tsp sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
1 tbsp finely chopped, fresh parsley
salt, (white) pepper

If you don't have roasted garlic lurking in the fridge, start by prepping that. Wrap a whole head of garlic in foil and roast at 175º for an hour. Let cool and squeeze out the caramelized, soft paste from the cloves. You can roast the tomato at the same time - cut a cross-shape incision in the end and place on a tray lined with parchment. 

Roast the almonds on a hot pan until golden and aromatic. Let cool.

Cut the peppers and roast at 225º until the skin starts bubbling and turning black. Transfer into a bowl and cover. Once they've cooled enough to handle, pull the skin off. Do the same with tomato. If using jarred piquillo peppers, you'll need about 6.

Measure the almonds into a mixer and blizz into powder. Add garlic paste, tomato and chilli and mix. Then add peppers, pulse into a thick paste, season with pimentón and vinegar. The sauce will thicken the longer it waits in the fridge, so if you want it runnier, add oil.

Fold in finely chopped parsley and (if you manage to keep your fingers off!) let the sauce sit in the fridge for at least half an hour before serving. Then check the taste and season as needed by adding salt, pepper (and/or a little bit of sugar).

And as we're gearing up for the BBQ season (hrrrrrrr.....) do not forget the other dips, spreads and sauces on the blog. Prepare a selection of your favourites and bring them along to a picnic. Great with these herby flatbread crisps...!

Muhammara for instance goes with, well, everything

Tartar sauce on the other hand loves, loves, loves fish and seafood. Both grilled and deep-fried kind!

And this take on baba ghannoush is versatile as heck. One of the most popular recipes in the history of this blog, by the way!

This apricot sauce is versatile too and a great accompaniment especially for Middle Eastern delicacies!

And this cashew-based garlic sauce is glorious with any grilled meat!

This mango, chilli, ginger and crayfish dressing/ spread is so delicious I eat it on its own (and so would you!) Though it is great served in hot dog buns too...!

Tzatziki provides a nice cooling breeze with spicy dishes...

And one shouldn't forget persillade,  either. Not only is it a great sauce for grilled fish or meat, it also makes a gloriously bright (and light!) dressing for salads, too!

Those ought to get you started! Now if only the weather were as welcoming to the idea of getting started with summer, too...!




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