One of the things I love about travelling is trying new types of food and experiencing local flavors. Being a vegetarian as I am, some destinations pose a bit more of a challenge than others as far as finding non-meat dishes.
In Spain they serve a lot of meat, especially jamón, a type of cured ham, which they are famous for. We even passed a vending machine in the train station in Seville that dispensed jamón. I ended up eating a lot of potatoes while traveling through Spain. They were served in many forms, the most well known being patatas bravas. The potatoes were cut in thick wedges or irregular squares and then fried and served with an aioli sauce or a Romesco style sauce.
Romesco sauce is a favorite of mine. There are many variations of this roasted red pepper sauce and I have come up with my own version using toasted walnuts and fresh tomatoes which complement the smoked paprika and sweet peppers. I’ll put it on anything or just stand in the kitchen with a spoon eating out of the Cuisinart before it even makes it to a plate. It is a simple sauce that is so versatile – use it as a dip, toss cooked vegetables in it, or, as I have done here, use it as a pasta sauce over some freshly made spaghetti using this recipe for the pasta.
|Catalan Romesco Sauce|
- 4 red peppers
- 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes, seeds and skin included
- 1 cup chopped sweet yellow onion
- ⅓ cup roughly chopped walnuts that have been lightly toasted
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- ½ teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
- ¼ cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Roast the red peppers over a gas flame or under a broiler until completely charred.
- Remove from heat and cool.
- When cool enough to touch, run the red peppers under cold water and pull off the blackened skin. Leave a little bit of the char on the peppers to add a smoky flavor to the sauce.
- In a small pan, sauté the onions and garlic on low/medium heat in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil until the onions become translucent and then remove from heat.
- Place the walnuts in a food processor and blend until they are very fine.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the walnuts and continue to process until the mixture is smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Here I tossed the Romesco sauce with fresh spaghetti that I placed on a bed of spinach sautéed in a little olive oil, garlic and lemon zest, and then topped it off with some Parmesan and a poached egg. It was scrumptious!