By Cristina Clarimon-Alinder
Almonds are ubiquitous in Spanish cuisine. Soups, sauces and desserts all make liberal use of this wonderful and healthy nut. They even feature prominently as snacks, often paired with dried fruit, particularly figs.
Romesco sauce is a simple combination of a handful of ingredients: almonds, roasted red peppers, pimenton, garlic, olive oil and vinegar. That’s basically all you need, but if there is a secret to its success, it’s the quality of the ingredients. Use your best olive oil, your freshest almonds and the most fragrant garlic.
1 cup toasted almonds (Marcona are traditional)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves
1 red bell pepper
1 tbsp smoked pimenton
½ tsp hot pimenton or cayenne pepper
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
Salt to taste
Place the toasted almonds in a blender. Add the olive oil. Mince the garlic and add to the blender. Measure the pimenton (paprika) and the sherry vinegar and incorporate with the other ingredients.
Roast the red pepper by charring the skin over the flame of your gas stove. Keep turning it as it bubbles and blackens. You can also roast it in the oven until it turns soft. I personally use a combination of these techniques because I enjoy the smoky taste of the flame-roasted pepper.
Once the pepper is ready, remove the stem and seeds and add to the blender. At a low setting, blend for a minute. Taste the sauce and adjust the salt. If the mix is very thick, don’t hesitate to add more olive oil. If, on the other hand, it remains too runny, you only need to add a few more almonds.
The result is a smoky, slightly spicy, thick sauce that resembles a spread or dip. It combines beautifully with roasted vegetables, meat or seafood. It even stands alone on a crusty slice of bread topped with some fresh tomatoes from your garden and a few basil leaves.
Cristina Clarimon-Alinder moved to Williston in 2016. She is originally from Madrid, Spain. She enjoys gardening, cooking and watching classic movies. For more of her writings, visit nectarnc.com.