One of the most frustrating things about food photography in my itsy bitsy apartment is the lack of natural sunlight. I have quite a few windows in the kitchen/living room space, but the surrounding buildings seem to block out the sun half the time and the other half of the time the abundant clouds and rainstorms keep me from taking bright, sunny photos.
It’s another rainy May day in Chicago and I’m stuck inside, but at least my weekly grocery trip is out of the way and I’m stocked up for some quality time in the kitchen.
Some recipes turn out best when you have a little extra time. Romesco sauce is one of those lovely condiments that can be thrown together in a hurry (with roasted peppers from a jar) or painstakingly made at home, cooked low and slow until the flavors concentrate and the smoky aroma of capsicum and carmelized garlic fill the air. Whenever I find myself with an afternoon to spare, I like to take my time.
There are a number of ways to make romesco sauce, but the basic recipe includes roasted peppers (or dried ancho peppers), tomatoes, garlic, and toasted almonds. The almonds are the central ingredient that make this sauce more than just a peppery marinara. They add creaminess and that unmistakable nutty sweetness of almonds.
2 Red Bell Peppers, chopped
2 poblano peppers (or dried ancho peppers, soaked)
2-4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup almonds, roasted
1 cup chopped tomato
2 Tblsp smoked, sweet paprika
1 Tblsp red wine vinegar
1 Tblsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 400. Roughly chop peppers, add chopped garlic cloves and mix with olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 15-2o mins until the peppers are tender and slightly caramelized around the edges. While the peppers are cooking, heat the tomato in a sauce pan on medium heat until cooked through.
I put the almonds in a spice grinder for 10 seconds or so and make a course almond meal. I find this make blending the mixture easier.
Once the peppers are done cooking, transfer to a blender. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. I like to put it back on the stovetop and cook for a minute or two until thickened.
The smoky richness of romesco sauce pairs wonderfully with steamed or grilled vegetables like leeks, onions or eggplant. It’s also a perfect sauce for lean fish or spooned over mussels.
I found a bunch of scallions in my fridge that needed some perking up.
Time to go spend the rest of my rainy day lounging on the couch with a good book.