I have loved getting back into the kitchen. Since Christmas I’ve made an effort, especially over the weekend, to get in and get creative. Sometimes it’s revisiting recipes, sometimes it’s been looking at new ones, or adaptations, like last week. This week I took inspiration from our Veg People Box.
Every week we get a small veg box for around £8. Lots of locally sourced vegetables and fruit, organic where possible and with the occasional curve ball, as sometimes it’s not possible to be completely locally sourced. Along with a hefty Savoy cabbage, rainbow carrots and a the first lettuce of the year, were red Palermo peppers.
These long red peppers are deliciously sweet, and perfect for roasting. This makes them ideal for recipes like last week’s enchilada sauce, and of course, this week’s Romesco Sauce. Oh and don’t worry if you haven’t got a veg box, they’re on offer in Aldi this week!
Romesco is one of my absolute favourite sauces. It’s a blend of roasted peppers, olive oil, roasted garlic, and toasted almonds or hazelnuts. It’s a creamy, nutty, sweet, sauce that works beautifully with pork, chicken, or just stirred through pasta. The sauce is totally veggie and vegan friendly, and though it takes a little prep work (I do mean a little, it’s not that bad, I promise) it’s worth the effort. Especially the roasted garlic. You can, if you’re pushed for time, use a raw garlic clove, but please only use one, or maybe two. If you get a punchy clove of garlic, it’s what you’ll be tasting for the rest of the evening (learn from my experience!). Roasting a whole bulb is worth it, it gives a much softer, rounder garlic flavour. You can always put any leftover in the freezer and use it for the next batch – or even add it to your spag bol, marinara or pizza sauce for a little added oomph.
When it comes to almonds versus hazelnuts, totally personal preference. I find them pretty much interchangeable, though the hazelnuts offer something a little heavier and earthier, the almonds are lighter and more ‘nutty’. Go for whatever floats your boat – or whatever your dinner date isn’t allergic to.
- 2 Red peppers
- 3 Cloves of roasted garlic (or one raw)
- 1 tbsp Good olive oil
- 50 grams Almonds or hazelnuts
First a little prep. If you're roasting your head of garlic, slice it in half, drizzle on a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt, wrap in foil and roast in the oven at 200°C (Gas Mark 6) for about 30-40 minutes.
Whilst that's on, let's get the peppers roasted. Using the flame on your gas hob, char the outside of them all over, before popping them into a sealed plastic bag. If you don't have a gas hob, don't worry, simply halve them, and scoop out the seeds and core, and lay them on parchment paper on a baking sheet, and cook them in the oven for 25 minutes at 230°C (Gas Mark 8). The peppers should be soft, and the skins a little charred.
While they're cooling, toast the nuts in a dry pan. You'll need to keep an eye on them, because they can go very quickly from brown to burnt! When gently brown, remove from the heat, and leave to cool.
When the peppers are cooled, remove the skins, and pop them into a blender with the garlic, olive oil, and the toasted nuts. Add a grind or two of salt for seasoning.
Now blend until smooth - there should be a little texture there, but not too gritty. Taste to check seasoning, and when you're happy, decant it into a jar or tub for the fridge.
As with anything like thiis, leaving this overnight will improve the flavour, but it's good to go straight away, and we had it served with a roast pork loin, roast baby potatoes and veggies. Delish!