Sweet, smoky & spicy

We had some leftover red bell peppers and romesco sauce came unbidden into my mind.  Certain foods are like a word or a fact I’ve read or heard once and filed away.  Several years later it comes to the surface, and rack my brains as I may I can’t recall the origin.  Romesco is a nut and red pepper-based sauce from Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain. I made this once about 15 years ago and obviously never forgot it!

So I decided to make some.  But first, my friend rang and when I said I was going to make a Catalan sauce, she said she saw Jamie Oliver on the telly.  He was in Andalucia making a fresh tomato salad.  He put sliced garlic into hot oil and watched it like a hawk.  Just as it began to brown, he poured in a splash of sherry vinegar, which stopped the cooking and imparted a very nice flavour.  I thought, ‘I could do that’.  I did my usual pre-cooking look-at-a-half-dozen-recipes research and cobbled together a recipe based on the best of the bunch and using our larder stock.

Rrrrromesco Sauce

  • Four red bell peppers
  • 1-2 slices of stale bread, crumbled
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • Some olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 300g chopped tomatoes, juice and all
  • 2 -3 tablespoons toasted almonds
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 2-3 teaspoons paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

First, I got my Campingaz stove out (we have a ceramic hob), charred the bell peppers and put them in a paper bag to cool off.

Charring a pepper

I wiped off the char and seeded and sliced ’em.

Then I heated about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, toasted the bread crumbs, then added the sliced garlic and just as it started to turn golden, poured in the sherry vinegar.  This quickly evaporated and I took the bread and garlic off the heat.

I put the sliced peppers, bread, garlic, tomatoes, almonds (these were toasted slivers leftover from some ice cream sundae days), chile powder, paprika, salt and pepper in my food processor.  Then gave it a whiz until it was the consistency of pesto.

It’s really nice stuff.  We had it spread on toasted baguette with baked chicken thighs  and broccoli the first night.

Tonight I had some with grilled rump steak, roast new potatoes and spinach.

We’ll probably give it a spin with fish in a couple of days.  It lasts for a week, so plenty o’ time to explore.  Until next time,  bon viatge!

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