Romesco is a Catalonian specialty, created by Spanish fishermen to be served with their fresh catch. A tomato and sweet red pepper sauce that is zesty, smoky and garlicky, I thought it would be the perfect pairing with the simple sweetness of grilled zucchini and summer squash, which are readily available now. Turns out it is! It takes the mild flavor of the vegetable to another dimension.
There are many recipes, most using a slice of toasted bread in the mix. I wanted to make it a bit lighter and eliminated the bread, which also automatically made it gluten free. Don’t miss the bread at all.
Please note that the 2 large cloves of garlic will keep vampires away, so use less if you’re not a big fan of a garlic punch. And if you’re not a big fan of smoky flavors, use all sweet paprika.
Also note that the nuts need to be toasted and skinless. For ease of preparation, I used packaged toasted, slivered almonds, and pine nuts. You can use all almonds.
Make the Romesco ahead and refrigerate to give the flavors a chance to develop and blend together. Take out an hour before serving and let it come to room temperature.
I like using small squash and cooking whole. It makes for less sticking to the grill and a pretty presentation. You can use large squash and slice lengthwise ¼ inch thick.
2 medium sized sweet red bell peppers, cut in large wedges and seeded
2 medium sized heirloom tomatoes, cut in quarters and seeded
¾ cup toasted skinless almonds
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 large cloves garlic, rough chopped
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp sweet paprika
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 T plus 1 tsp sherry wine vinegar
7 T extra virgin olive oil
Put oven rack to top shelf and preheat oven to broil. Press peppers and tomatoes flat, skin size up, on a foil covered sheet pan. Broil for about 10-12 minutes until skins are blackening. Immediately put in a heat resistant bowl and cover tightly to steam. (I used the cooking foil) When cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes, peel the skins off of the vegetables and set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, fit with the processing S-blade, add the nuts, garlic salt and the spices. Mix for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides and mix another 10 seconds or until nuts are ground to a meal. Add the peppers, tomatoes and sherry vinegar and mix another 20-30 seconds until incorporated. With the motor running slowly stream in the EVOO and mix until combined. Taste for seasoning.
2 dozen assorted small zucchini and summer squash
Grapeseed oil (it has a high smoke point)
Heat gill to medium low. Toss the squash with enough oil to coat. When grates are hot, add the squash. Cook about 5 minutes or until dark grill marks appear, then turn and cook additional 5 minutes. I use a Weber gas grill. You’ll have to gauge the heat and the timing to your grill. If you don’t have a grill roast in the oven at 425 degrees on sheet pans for about 12-15 minutes, turning halfway.
Plate the squash and sprinkle with kosher salt. Serve the Romesco on the side. Add a basket of toasted sourdough baguette and a bottle of Albarino for a perfect summer appetizer.