i'm starting to think all dressings, sauces, purees and dang near anything else that will eventually "dress" another food, should have nuts included. we've recently come into a good quantity of almonds (thanks costco!) and raw cashews (thanks even more, tffac!), and using them up has been glorious. i don't know about you guys, but nuts in this house are a major commodity - expensive, nutritious, and sure to enhance everything they touch.
lauren brought home some lovely little new potatoes from the italian market yesterday, the kind that are smaller than eggs and perfect for roasting. even though the weather has been warmer lately (praise be!), we're still a few months away from the sweltering summer when turning the oven on is nothing short of masochistic.
so we cut the cute taters in half, prepped some zucchini, onions and carrots, and tossed the whole mess with olive oil, paprika, s&p. slid the pan into a 350F oven for 20 minutes. it should always be this easy.
but naked veggies (even ones gently roasted to perfection, thank you a-very much) are for especially lazy days, and we were both feeling more motivated last night. after thumbing through a few cookbooks, inspiration struck: romesco sauce! this almond, hazelnut, and/or pine nut-based sauce is thick and robust, and a super classy alternative to ketchup to accompany potatoes. and best of all, it's so easy. don't let the fancy name or european roots of this dude mislead you; it is not one bit harder than making hummus or bean dip. romesco is a cousin of pesto and tapenade in that it wears many food hats: it can be thinned out and tossed with pasta, spread as a sandwich condiment, spooned onto crackers or extra spicy as a dip for vegetables.
or just eat it straight out of the bowl!
if you have the ingredients in your pantry (and i'd bet you do), consider making an extra large batch - some for tonight's dinner, and some to have on hand for the coming week. believe me, it will give you many happy returns when you're standing at the open fridge pondering "what little snacks await me?"
adapted from "The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen" by Donna Klein
~makes about 1.5 cups~
~takes 10 minutes~
1/2 cup nuts - any combo of almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, or pine nuts
2-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 small dried chili pepper or 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
2 medium tomatoes, fresh or canned (she says to seed them, but i don't think it's necessary)
1 tsp paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil (extra virgin, or not)
1-1.5 tbsp red vine vinegar (i bet red wine + a squeeze of lemon juice would be good, too)
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (fully optional)
-in the toaster oven (or real oven at 350F, if you must), toast the nuts. take care not to burn them! i used to always burn nuts when i meant to toast them. it sucks. let them cool a bit.
- put the nuts, garlic, chili and salt in a food processor and pulse til ground.
- add everything else and let the processor run until you've got a nice, red, nutty sauce. you might need to scrape down the sides a few times to make sure it's well combined.
- if you have the time, let the romesco cool, so the flavors can meld. or if you don't have time, don't worry!
- added bonus: i'm reasonably sure that a small scoop of romesco sauce atop half a roasted new potato counts as "tapas," and would be an awesome addition to an at-home happy hour!