Sunday, January 22, 2012

peppers in a pot

Occasionally I find myself with a surfeit of a particular ingredient. This time I was facing the weekend with an abundance of red bell peppers, ripe and ready, but with no place to go. My first step was to roast them, to concentrate their flavor and take advantage of the natural softening of the peppers as they begin to age past the point of serving them crisp and raw.

Going at the roasting in the most direct manner possible I fired up my gas topped stove and piled the peppers in an elaborate balancing act over the open flames, turning them with tongs periodically so that all sides became blistered and black. This is a slightly messy procedure but it was fun to engage in this primitive cooking method from the comfort of my warm kitchen on an icy snow day.
Once blackened I plopped the peppers in a pot and covered them (you could use any container that holds them all) allowing them to steam to room temp, helping the skins loosen and slip off when rubbed by hand.

What to do with all the roasted peppers was the next question. Romesco sauce, a Spanish sauce featuring paprika and almonds that gets pureed in a food processor came to mind. The Romesco sauce recipe I found on the La Tienda web site did not, in fact, call for roasted peppers. I decided to use my peppers anyway, substituting them for the tomatoes in the recipe and then more or less following the rest of the instructions from there.
True to my intrepid inclinations I made a few more substitutions to La Tienda's perfectly nice recipe. I urge anyone interested to try their version straight up. But, if you decide to go off the path a bit as I did, I am here to tell you the results may be equally wonderful!
 Garlic, chilies and almonds all part of a classic Romesco sauce.

For example, the classic recipe calls for almonds and hazelnuts. I did not have hazelnuts so I doubled up on the almonds. AND not just any almonds but some spiced ones (the last of the amazing spiced almonds my brother-in-law gave me for Christmas.)
The recipe also calls for a slice of toasted bread. I decided to throw into the mix a half cup of panko bread crumbs instead.
 Romesco sauce makes a great dip for crudite.

My wayward concoction was quick to assemble once I got the peppers roasted and peeled. The flavor of the sauce came out beyond expectation. Rich, smokey, complex and very tasty, with a gentle crunch from the nuts, I will be eating this sauce on top of everything all week.

Visit LaTienda's site for their great authentic recipe and enjoy!

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