I spread "Toasted Hazelnut Romesco Sauce" on crostini with the Gambas al Ajillo, as I mentioned the other day. Tonight we used some of the leftover sauce in a bizarre yet delicious combination of...should I tell you this? Leftover linguine, roasted chicken, and a combo of frozen corn and canned creamed corn. Well, that doesn't actually sound all that weird. But I don't think I've ever had pasta mixed in with creamed corn before. Somehow the romesco made it work as a bridge ingredient. I was really getting into eating this sauce with the pasta and the creamy corn, along with a crunchy slice of bread. Think about it. There are chile peppers in romesco sauce, which taste great with corn in a very American (as in the southern part of the continent, not just the USA) way. The pasta had an affinity with all ingredients of the sauce as well.
Anyway, the point is, this romesco sauce does not have to be hoity-toity just because it is Catalan and cool. Actually, it does an incredible job of making boring leftovers more robust and alive. Yes, The New Spanish Table recommends pairing the sauce with hip ingredients like fennel sticks, endive leaves, or poached asparagus, but imagine this tangy, deep and smoky sauce on a baked potato or french fries!
To keep proving this point I just went over to my empty-ish fridge to see what other things might taste good with the last of this sauce, and I stumbled on a package of bacon. Oh, baby. A BLT with romesco!?!?!? I totally know what we are having for dinner tomorrow.
Toasted Hazelnut Romesco Sauce
From The New Spanish Kitchen
- 1 dried medium sized ancho chile, stemmed, seeded, and cut or torn into small pieces
- 2/3 cups hazelnuts
- 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 ½ T toasted bread crumbs
- 1 small plum tomato, chopped
- 1 T sweet (not smoked) paprika, preferably Spanish
- 1/8 tsp cayenne, or more to taste
- 6 T extra virgin olive oil
- 2 T red wine vinegar, or more to taste
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
- Pour 1/2 cup of boiling water over the pieces of chile in a heatproof boal. Cover and steep for at least half an hour.
- Meanwhile, toast and skin the hazelnuts: Place the nuts on a cookie sheet in a 350˚ oven for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until the skins look blistered. Be careful not to let them burn. Remove the cookie sheet and pour the hazelnuts into a clean dishtowel. Wrap the towel around the them and let them sit for 15 minutes. While dishtowel is still closed, squeeze and twist the towel to grind the hazelnuts' surfaces against each other to help scrape the skins off. Open the towel and with your fingertips, pull off and scrape as much skin off as possible. It's not necessary to remove all of the skins.
- In a food processor, pulse the hazelnuts until they are a semi-fine texture. Add the peppers, 1/3 cup of the soaking liquid, garlic cloves, bread crumbs, tomato, paprika, and cayenne and process until mostly smooth, with a slight texture from the hazelnuts. Scrape the sides of the food processor bowl.
- In a thin stream, slowly add all of the olive oil with the processor running.
- Scrape sauce into a bowl, and stir in the vinegar. Add salt to taste.
- Cover, and refrigerate for at least half an hour. May be made ahead up to a week. Before serving, check the sauce's flavor to see if more salt, vinegar, or cayenne should be added to finish.
Makes about 1 ½ cups.