April 15th, 2013

Romesco Sauce (or put-it-on-everything sauce)

OneHungryMama Romesco Sauce

I’m not big on making fussy sauces at home (I’m looking at you hollandaise). Unless a sauce comes together in my pan in 5 minutes or can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for days, it’s probably not happening in my house. The sauces I make are usually simple and clean, made with just a few ingredients since those are the ones that fit my must-be-easy-to-make criteria. And then there’s this Romesco Sauce.

Despite calling for eleven ingredients, this sauce passes my prep test—because blenders are an amazing thing and most of the ingredients are from the pantry—but the flavor has so much more depth than you’d expect from an easy make. It is smoky and tangy, hearty and bright. It hits all the spots on my palate that activate addiction. Sorry, but it’s true. I cannot get enough of this stuff.

I’ve served this Romesco sauce on top of mashed potatoes, with garlicky sautéed kale, alongside crab cakes, tossed with roasted cauliflower, dolloped into a simple veggie soup, and as a dipping sauce for toasty bread. As far as I can tell, this sauce makes everything better.

This recipe is from one of my new favorite cookbooks, Vegetable Literacy. This hefty book may seem intimidating, but don’t let its coffee table quality intimidate you. It’s chock full of simple yet unexpected vegetable preparations that are sure to inspire.

OneHungryMama Vegetable Literacy

If you’re already a vegaphile, you’ll love this book as much as I do. Get your copy immediately. If you’re not super into veggies, I’ll bet that you’ll find recipes in here that will change your mind. Get your copy immediately. And, if nothing else, it really does look gorgeous on a coffee table. (And what a statement to kiddo to have a book called Vegetable Literacy hanging around!)

Note that the primary ingredient in this sauce is roasted peppers. If you can roast your own, that’s fabulous! It’s worth it. Otherwise, get some from a deli counter or buy a high quality jarred roasted red pepper.

Romesco Sauce
from Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison
(can be shared with kids 6+ mos)*
Makes 2 cups

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Spanish
1 thin but sturdy slice of country bread
1/2 cup almonds or hazelnuts, or a mixture, toasted, the hazelnuts peeled
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons New Mexican or other ground red chile
4 Roma tomatoes, fresh, grilled or pan roasted
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, or a few pinches of dried thyme
Sea salt
1 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded
1/4 cup sherry vinegar

1. Warm 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small skillet. Add the bread, turn it immediately so that both sides are moistened with oil, then fry over medium until golden and crisp. When it’s done, grind it with the nuts and garlic in a food processor (or a high powered blender) until the mixture is fairly fine.

2. Add the garlic, chile, tomatoes, parsley, thyme, a scant teaspoon of salt, the paprika, and the peppers and process until smooth. With the machine running, gradually pour in the vinegar, then the remaining 1/2 cup oil. Taste and make sure the sauce has plenty of piquancy and enough salt. Store the sauce in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to a week.

*Note: Just a little of this bold sauce goes a long way for little ones. Add just a touch to pureed grains and/or veggies to get baby’s palate excited! It’s not spicy, so don’t be afraid. Share this!

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