Having no prior knowledge of things I am making is occasionally a source of anxiety, such as when trying to judge the relative done-ness of a new cut of meat. More typically, however, it’s quite freeing. When I’m trying to re-create something that knocked my socks off in its delicious simplicity (e.g., Papas Loco from The Coffee Cup in San Diego) or revisit favorite childhood flavor memories (a shoo-fly pie disaster), there is an implicit standard to meet. Without a previous experience or flavor on which to anchor my cooking outcome, there is no bar to jump over. Instead I can judge the end product by whether or not I like it, adherence to the recipe be damned.
And so it was with this weekend’s romesco sauce.
Romesco is a tomato- and nut-based sauce that is seasoned with garlic, lemon, and some variety of spice. Typically served with seafood, nearly all of the recipes I found called for a slice of stale bread thrown into the mix. So, as I normally do when “paleofying” a new (to me) recipe, I omitted the offending items. Easy enough! And, because it was a case where the bread was more for texture than flavor or any chemical property of gluten, I don’t think there was much to miss.
The following recipe is time consuming, mainly because you are waiting for things to cool before moving on to the next step. You could easily roast your nuts and tomato in the morning or the day before and then zip it all together later on.
I was so obsessed with what emerged from the blender, that I put it on just about everything: turbot fillets, pork burgers, potatoes…you name it. Try it and see what you think!
Adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques
- 1 large tomato, cored
- 2 T. almonds
- 2 T. hazelnuts
- 4 dried ancho chiles
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 c. olive oil + 2 T.
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- splash of sherry vinegar
- pinch of parsley
- salt, to taste
- Heat oven to 375. Toast almonds and hazelnuts for 8-10 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice, until nuts are fragrant. As soon as you remove the pan, pour the hazelnuts into a dishtowel and rub them vigorously to remove the skins so they don’t make the sauce bitter.
- Bump up the oven temperature to 400. Place tomato in a foil-lined pan and roast for about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool and remove skin when cool enough to handle.
- While the tomato is roasting, pour hot water over ancho chiles to cover and let sit 15-20 minutes or until softened. Drain chiles and set aside.
- Heat a large sauce pan over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or a generous glug) and the ancho chiles and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes or until all of the tomato juices have evaporated and the tomato starts to turn slightly darker. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
- In a food processor, pulse together the nuts and garlic until the nuts are coarsely ground. Add the chile-tomato mixture, and process another minute or so.
- With the machine running, slowly pour in the 1/2 cup of olive oil. Add the parsley, lemon juice, and a splash of sherry vinegar. Season to taste with additional salt.
- Put on everything.
This will store for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator. You think you can make it last that long?