Monday, February 9, 2009

Versatility ...

Romesco sauce. If there's a more versatile dish on the planet, I'm not sure what it would be. A Catalonia classic, romesco sauce is a luscious combination of ground nuts, piquant peppers, a bit of toasted bread and some seasonings ... and it can be used in a myriad of ways. Its a dip, a sauce, a condiment - all rolled into one. Its uses are limited only by your imagination and, happily, it can be prepared in a matter of minutes.

There are as many versions of romesco sauce as there are applications for its use. I'll present one of them here today, but feel free to experiment. In Spain, the sauce is often made with Cascabel peppers but fear not, I won't be sending you on a wild pepper chase. We can achieve a perfectly delightful bowl of romesco with a jar of ordinary roasted red peppers. Marcona almonds are traditional as well but the end result will not suffer a bit if you use regular almonds.

Romesco Sauce:
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 large slice of firm, sugar-free, whole grain bread, crusts removed
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds (or blanched sliced almonds)
  • one 7.5 ounce jar of roasted red peppers, drained
  • 3/4 cup of fresh grape tomatoes*
  • 1 tbsp. of sherry wine or red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • some freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 or 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • dash of Tobasco sauce, optional
Tear the slice of bread into pieces and heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the bread and garlic to the skillet and toast over medium high heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally for approximately 5 minutes. Add the almonds to the pan and continue toasting until the almonds are golden brown, stirring as needed, for about 3 minutes or so. Do not burn.

Transfer the mixture to a food processor and pulse until ground. Add the rest of the ingredients, pulse and puree until finely ground. The mixture will form a thick paste, similar to pesto in consistency. Serve immediately, or reserve and chill for later use.

*I've chosen to use grape tomatoes because its winter. If it were tomato season, I would opt for one large ripe tomato, seeded and coarsely chopped.

The finished sauce is delicious all on its own and can be used to top any grilled fish, chicken or meat. It would be outstanding as a sandwich condiment and is equally good when used as a dip for fresh veggies or spread on crackers as seen above.

Taking my cue from The Flat Belly Diet Cookbook, I put the sauce to good use last night and adapted the following recipe:

Chicken with Romesco Sauce:
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed to a paste with a pinch of Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. of fresh lemon juice
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
  • Romesco Sauce
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic paste, lemon juice, pepper and oregano, whisking well to incorporate. Brush the chicken breasts with the seasoned oil and allow them to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the chicken and cook, turning once until browned on both sides, approximately 5 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and reserve. Add the romesco sauce and vegetable broth to the same skillet and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Return the chicken to the skillet, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked throughout. Serve, garnished with a slice of lemon, and enjoy!

As written, this recipe will serve four and there will be plenty of sauce left over for later use. Keep the left-over sauce covered in the fridge and use it as a dip for some lovely grilled shrimp, or what have you. I like to serve it with some crisp flat bread and hummus, though it would be equally good when paired with a nice, sharp cheese.

Really, its the most versatile recipe in my cannon. It tastes of summer in a bowl ... and that's a welcome quality indeed. I hope you'll try it!

Bon appetit!


Anonymous said...

A sauce and dip in one...that's totally well rounded right there. It sounds divine on a bit of toasted bread, but your chicken dinner looks even better. You're eatin' good!

Tracy said...

Great post, Diva! I, too, love romesco sauce for its bright flavor, color and versatility. Romesco sauce also freezes very well. And thanks for another great chicken recipe. Have you ever thought about writing a chicken cookbook??

The Diva on a Diet said...

Duo - it is well rounded. I like to cook once and eat twice ... so this is a perfect dish.

Tracy - good tip about the romesco freezing well. I neglected to mention that. Thanks! I do plan on writing a cookbook at some point ... so maybe I should make it chicken. I'll call it: "How Much Chicken Can One Diva Eat!" LOL :)

Jennifer said...

This looks so tasty and a definite one to add to the freezer stock.

Anonymous said...

Everytime I see a recipe or write up that includes a Romanesco sauce reference, I mean to make it very soon. Then, I forget again. Why is that when it's such a yummy and versatile way to use my favourite ingredients?

Juliet said...

Wow. That sauce looks so up my alley!! Thank you so much for sharing!

The Diva on a Diet said...

Jennifer - Welcome! It mighty tasty and I'm so glad Tracy pointed out that it freezes well.

Anonymous - which ingredient is your favorite! I'm forever forgetting about recipes I'd like to make as well. I need to take notes!

Juliet - you're most welcome and I hope you enjoy it! :)

words words words said...

There are very few things in the culinary world that I have not at least heard of, but wow, this was one. It looks delicious! I'm always looking for new dips because I really dislike sour cream and ranch, and one of them is used in 99% of dips.

The Diva on a Diet said...

words words words - you don't like sour cream or ranch?!? This does not compute! LOL I think you'd really like this dip and happy I could share something new with you. :)

Deb said...

Looks yummy I bet it would be great on Tilapia. I'll have to make some and give it a try and report back on it.