Sometimes you need to get rid of veges that are clogging up your fridge. Other times you need something healthy to jazz up a piece of chicken, or youd like to make your own dip to take to a party. The answer is salsa romesco. Of Spanish origin, the basics youll need are almonds, pine nuts and/or hazelnuts, roasted peppers, garlic and olive oil. Added bonus ingredients are red wine vinegar, roasted tomatoes, and onion. This post cant be called a recipe, its more a guide to making a romesco sauce that suits you. I didnt really use any measurements at all.
I decided to give some roasted chicken drumsticks a bit of life last night, and made my own version of this spanish sauce. I used Stephanie Alexanders recipe as a loose guide, but it got changed plenty, and I didnt measure anything. There are ways to make this the easy shortcut way, or a more drawn out, pottering in the kitchen way. I choose a fairly easy method, using jarred piquillo peppers I bought from Spanish Flavours in Mt Hawthorn. If you wanted to use peppers you have at home, blacken them either under the grill or over a flame/coals, put them in a plastic container or bag for 10 minutes. Once they're cooler, peel the skins off and discard them, and keep the flesh for when you need it.
I decided to use tomatoes in my sauce, so tumbled a punnet of cherry tomatoes (in my opinion the only safe bet when buying toms from the supermarkets) into a oven tray, with a whole chilli. A healthy glug of garlic olive oil (the healthy oil!) and a smattering of seasoning later and they were ready for the oven.
I put them under the grill, and kept checking back until they had blackened a bit. I pierced them all with a knife before grilling, as sometimes tomatoes pop and explode a bit, and I didnt really feel like dealing with that! Once theyre grilled, its up to you whether or not you peel the skins off, or drain the liquid. Stephanie Alexanders recipe says you should use Roma tomatoes and once grilled, lose the skin and put them in a colander for 20mins to drain. However the juices that had come out were delicious and full of tomato flavour, and I couldnt be bothered to peel them - besides, I like a bit of a char flavour on things!
The recipe also calls for blanched 3 times garlic, and cooked till its softened. I blanched it once and cooked it till it was soft, however it would be just as nice to hide it under your tomatoes, skin on, to soften that way.
I then chucked it all into my food processor, along with a handful of the jarred peppers (squeezed off their excess juices), almonds, a shlug of red wine vinegar, some salt and pepper, and blitzed.
Taste it, see if youd like more vinegar, more almonds... Secret is, to add less than you think to start out with, then taste it. You can always add more of something but its alot trickier to take it away! In this case I would have taken the seeds out of the chilli as it has quite an aggressive heat - it would be amazing used as a marinade for bbqs, but we were using it as a dip, so it was a bit much. Leave it out if you want.
Its SO versatile, and so easy to make. It doesnt require anything fancy, you can use any vinegar you like really, that you enjoy the taste of. Use lemon instead if you want. Its a very forgiving recipe, if you can call this post a recipe... This is definitely an everyday food - you're likely to have everything in the cupboard already, and its healthy enough to eat every day! Its certainly versatile enough.
Easiest way to jazz up a piece of chicken or red meat, use it as a dip, put it on bread with cheese and grill it, use it as a pizza sauce with lamb and fetta... Add mint, coriander or parsley... You'll be eating well!