Romesco de L’Olive

My wife wanted something a little different for our supper last weekend. Since I was making pa amb tomaquet, I thought I would do a simple grilled chicken to go with it.  But how to give the dish that Catalan approach?  Fortunately, I found a Salbixada recipe in Miramar Torres’ The Catalan Country Kitchen (p 114) and then I saw Romesco de L’Olive!   I quickly scaled the recipe for making that item to:

1 rehydrated ancho/pasilla chili (less stem/seeds)
1/4″ thick toasted slice of pa de pages (peasant bread)
1/4 c toasted almonds (1 1/4 oz)
1/4 c toasted hazelnuts (1 1/4 oz)
1/2 t grated garlic
1/4 lb tomato, chopped
1/4c chopped onions
1 t paprika
3/8 t 2:1 salt/pepper (I use 4:1)
1 T red wine vinegar
1/4 extra virgin olive oil

dried pasilla from my local Whole Foods

So I started out by getting the pasilla rehydrated while I could concurrently begin working on other parts of the romesco sauce.

rehydrating pasilla in order to be able to remove the internal seeds

The recipe itself was pretty straightfoward; I’d combine everything in my food processor (dry items first, then everything but the vinegar and

toasted pa de pages, 2 for pa amb tomaquet, smallest one for the romesco

In retrospect, I could put a Japanese twist on it and use equal amounts of panko instead of the toasted slice of pa de pages.

a nice handful of hazelnuts…

As a followup, portioned out an equal amount of hazelnuts and almonds since nuts were a characteristic of this sauce.

…and a nice handful of almonds

Once that was done, I turned my attention to finely dicing up a small sweet onion and tomato to make it easier in getting

a small sweet onion and small tomato to be finely diced

the whole thing quickly blended in the food processor.

retrieved rehydated pasilla and clearing out the seeds/stem

At that point, enough time had gone by and I fished out the pasilla out of the pot of water, destemmed it and cleared out the interior of seeds and any possible ribs.

to chop/grind the bread and nuts

I tore up the slice of dry toast and tossed it in the food processor with the nuts and pulse ground the mix into a dry powder. I didn’t want to over process it for fear of turning it into something like peanut butter.

dry ingredients ground, ready for the remaining ingredients

When the dry ingredients were pulsed into a ‘powder’, I dumped in the grated garlic, diced onion, tomato, and ran the processor again

some of the seasonings for the romesco sauce

and then I was ready to season the whole thing.

bread, nuts, sweet onion, tomato, pasilla ground up and ready for the vinegar

So I added the vinegar in to help moisten the mix.

adding in the salt, pepper and paprika

…And then in went the salt, pepper and paprika.  At this point, I noticed the mix was a little bit tight and dry so I slowly added

Blended romesco with an extra 1/4 c of water to loosen the blend

1/4 c of water to loosen the mix. Once I was happy with the consistency, I measured out 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil.

measuring out the olive oil to finish the romesco recipe

The entire mix was pulled from the processor into a bowl so I could mix in the olive oil.

ready for the final blending of the romesco

It took a little effort to make sure I fully blended the olive oil into the romesco mix until it was smooth.   I must say I was

The finished sauce

surprised how thick the romesco was.   On tasting the sauce, my wife commented that she’d like to have more garlic flavor in the romesco, so I hand blended in another 1/2 teaspoon.  My wife helped out with the meal by preparing the sauteed cabbage and bell peppers.

Roast chicken, garlic sauteed cabbage, sauteed bell peppers, Romesco de L’Olive

while I got the chicken ready for the meal.  Once everything was done, I plated a schmear of the romesco sauce and put a roast chicken thigh on top of that. I finished plating both servings with the peppers and cabbage.  The flavors, as far as I could remember it, seemed to be all there. My wife clearly loved the sauce and was surprised how well it paired with all the components on the plate.  She wondered aloud if it could be used with pasta.  A quick look around the web suggested there are plenty of recipes out there combining romesco and pasta.  In retrospect, I think if I were to make this again, I might add a bit more olive oil to loosen the sauce.  All in all, it was a nice nostalgic meal recalling my visit to Barcelona all those years ago.   Perhaps this romesco sauce might be part of a ‘around the world’ tasting menu dinner offering for the holidays……

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