Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Romesco Sauce

I took this sauce/spread as an appetizer to our preschool social and I was really happy with how it turned out. I made up my own recipe using ideas from Penelope Casas' The Food and Wine of Spain and Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Casas' recipe was my baseline, but I used some additions from Madison and a tweak or two of my own. My version is more rustic than Madison or Casas would have you create because I didn't peel the almonds or tomato--seemed like too much effort for something that would be pureed. I used my handy new mini-chopper, as it didn't seem like a big enough recipe to warrant the full food processor. I'm sure readers will be unsurprised to learn that I used smoked paprika; it added just the right depth. Madison's recipe includes a roasted red pepper, which I think would be a nice, though not necessary, addition.

We read a book at our house called Yummy Yucky by Leslie Patricelli. Elspeth has so far only picked up on the yummy part and it is really gratifying to have her taste something and deem it yummy, as she did for this sauce. I served it with homemade bread and Spanish green olives.

INGREDIENTS
1-2 New Mexico dried chiles
1/2 c. red wine or sherry vinegar
1 c. water
2 slices sliced bread (I used the Grand Central como that we have on hand for eggy bread)
1/2 c. olive oil
1 tomato, diced
1/4 c. almonds, lightly toasted
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes or to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced finely or put through a garlic press
1 tsp sweet paprika or a combination of sweet and smoked sweet paprikas
Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS
  1. Clean the New Mexico chiles of any dirt or dust and put in a small saucepan with the vinegar and water over medium heat
  2. Bring mixture to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes
  3. Drain the chiles and save the vinegar/water mixture for flavoring and thinning the Romesco
  4. In a small to medium frying pan, heat 1/4 c. of the olive oil and fry the bread until it is golden on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside
  5. Use the oil that is left in the frying pan to saute the tomato for a few minutes, until soft
  6. Process the toasted almonds in the mini-chopper or food processor for a few seconds to start breaking them up
  7. Add the bread and pulse again until they're both coarsely chopped
  8. Add the soaked chiles, sauteed tomato, red pepper flakes, garlic, paprika and salt as well as the remaining 1/4 c. olive oil
  9. Puree the mixture until it is well integrated but not perfectly smooth. Taste and add some of the vinegar water as needed. Adjust flavorings as desired
  10. Keep at room temperature until you wish to serve. Works well as a sauce for fish, though we like to eat it as a spread

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