Quick Romesco sauce
Each month for at least ten years, House and Gardens magazine has winged its way across oceans to our PO Box courtesy of KP (an annual subscription for Christmas). I find it comforting to look at the immaculate interiors, most of them British; maybe it’s something to do with being an expat for so long and living in a rented home. Inevitably I turn to the food and drink section first. The collections of recipes are well-written, beautifully photographed and don’t succumb to the quick and easy style (often using pre-made components) that other cookery mags have started to feature so often. It’s not complicated cooking but it’s the kind I like to do, from scratch.
House guest was back for a couple of days after being in Saudi for a week. KP was on a rugby/golf trip in UK and veggie teen out with a friend, so supper for two was in order. A cold Chablis was opened and I roasted a mixture of onions from the farmers’ market until soft and slightly caramelised, then griddled some lamb cutlets until the fat was crisp and the meat pink. The sweetest, ripest cherry tomatoes and fragrant peppers (from IGR at the market) went into a homemade Romesco.
Pesto and muhamarra were guesses on Instagram when I asked people if they knew what I’d made. Romesco is kind of similar but from Catalonia in Spain where a regional type of hot pepper is used as a spice and the sauce is usually served with fish and a type of large spring onion, grilled over charcoal. The traditional version involves a lot of pounding in a pestle and mortar and roasting of ingredients. The name itself may have come from the word “rumiskal” meaning to mix, from the Moorish era in Spain, so this could have some Arabic influences, although it would differ in taste now as tomatoes and chillies didn’t arrive in Spain until the 16th century.
So having roundly condemned speedy versions of things, here’s my riff on the H&G quick Romesco sauce recipe (original by Louisa Carter).
Quick Romesco sauce
- 60g almonds (sliced are fine)
- 30g hazelnuts
- 1 large red pepper
- 6 cloves of pink garlic
- 300g ripe cherry tomatoes
- 65ml extra virgin olive oil
- A hunk (about 50g) of robust bread (I used Baker & Spice sourdough ciabatta)
- 2 tsp sweet smoked Spanish paprika
- red wine vinegar
- sea salt
- Heat the oven to 220C (or 200C for a fan oven). Spread the nuts on a baking tray and roast for about 2 minutes. Watch them like a hawk as they can burn easily. Remove when the nuts are lightly golden brown and put them onto a plate to cool.
- Core and deseed the pepper and cut into large cubes (about 4cm in size), peel the garlic. Put the tomatoes, chopped pepper and garlic onto the baking tray and pour over the olive oil. Give it a good stir to mix, sprinkle with sea salt and roast for about 10 mins until the garlic is soft. Remove the cloves and roast for another 5 minutes. Tear the bread into small pieces and add to the tray along with the paprika. Roast for a final 5 minutes.
- Scrape the contents of the baking tray into a food processor (or a large bowl and use a stick blender). Add the roasted garlic and nuts, a dash of red wine vinegar and about 1 tablespoon of boiling water then blitz. You want a loose consistency with a bit of texture from the nuts remaining. Add more boiling water and blitz again if necessary. Season to taste with additional red wine vinegar and salt if required.
Note: While you are roasting the pepper mixture on one tray, you can put in another tray of spring onions in olive oil to dip into the Romesco afterwards.
Sending this to Katie on Feeding Boys for Simple and in Season – pop over for more recipe inspiration.
What’s your favourite mag for food and recipes?