Spoke at a retired teacher’s convention today, and demoed, among other things, a high-reward-for-minimal-effort romesco dip. Twice. Plus made a few batches to sample out. As always, I ended up with too much. As food goes, it’s a good thing to have too much of.
Romesco is made from roasted red peppers, toasted almonds, garlic, olive oil and toasted bread. (Yes, toast – you tear it up and blend it in, and it adds body and bulk to the dip without adding much in the way of fat and calories. I mean yes bread has calories, but it’s better than adding a cup of sour cream or mayo.)
It’s fantastic, intensely flavoured stuff, and makes a great substitute for mayo on sandwiches (especially roast chicken, salami or roasted/grilled veg sandwiches) or dip for shrimp with their tails. Perhaps its best feature is its ability to improve with age – a little like Leonardo DiCaprio – so you can do up a batch to dip into for a week or so, or make well in advance of a party. On one of my favourite nights a bunch of us sat outside in lawn chairs until almost dawn, relighting candles as they burned down, sipping bubbly moscato and beer and scooping up great garlicky gobs of romesco with pitas, which we had grilled until char-marked and crisp, then broken into pieces. We all had garlic burps for two days.
Tonight we ate it far more unceremoniously in front of the news with leftover baguette, which having been sliced early this afternoon had gotten a little leathery, so I brushed the pieces with oil and toasted them in the oven to revive them a little and make them easier on the teeth. Also: asparagus spears straight from the fridge and thawed tail-on shrimp from the freezer.
W asked for a raisin bran muffin and Cheerios. He got them.
All the amounts here are approximate – it’s a dip, so feel free to wing it.
1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds, or half almonds and half pine nuts
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 thick slices French bread, toasted (or 3 if you’re using a baguette)
2 red peppers, roasted
1-2 Tbsp. red wine, sherry or balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. paprika
salt to taste
2-6 Tbsp. olive or canola oil
Toast almonds and garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat for about 3 minutes, until the almonds are pale golden and fragrant. Transfer to a food processor. Tear the bread into chunks into the food processor. Pulse until the bread and nuts turn to crumbs.
Add the red peppers, vinegar, paprika and salt and whiz until well blended. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and process until the mixture has the consistency of thick mayonnaise, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
Serve with pitas, slices of crusty baguette, cooked tail-on shrimp, naan or veggies.
Makes about 1 cup.
Per tablespoon: 42 calories, 3 g total fat (0.4 g saturated fat, 2 g monounsaturated fat, 0.5 g polyunsaturated fat), 1 g protein, 3.4 g carbohydrate, 0 mg cholesterol, 0.6 g fiber. 61% calories from fat
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