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Toasted Walnut Romesco [#MMAZ]

Posted Feb 11 2013 5:28am

As soon as I convinced Heather to choose through my incessant badgering discovered that Heather had chosen W is for Walnuts in the Meatless Mondays A-Z challenge , I knew exactly what I was going to make.

Or should I say…recreate?

I’m not sure why my first attempt at making the traditional Spanish red pepper sauce known as romesco was on my brain–I mean, it has been over two years now (!) since that first summer I lived in Austin when we watched Spain take the world cup in futbol.

Yet it was. So I went with it.

Already one of my fondest recipes in the nostalgic repertoire of delicious creations that I loved and yet never make again, my last attempt at the sauce [slash] dip stuck true to the standard use of almonds as a nutty counterpart to the roasted red peppers.

But what about substituting walnuts?  Burnt Toasted walnuts.

Into my food processor went the (re) toasted walnuts, as well as roasted red peppers… …and the traditionally incorporated hazelnuts–after managing to salvage them from their run-in with fire-breathing dragons. [Obviously my distracted nature in the kitchen had nothing to do with the fact that they lost their skins in a lesson on why we shouldn't go to the tanning bed.] I would have added garlic, but the trader named Joe added the perfect amount to his jar of tasty fire roasted peppers for me, so my hands could stay smelling like green apple kitchen soap and not like I was a participant in a kill–the-vampires crusade. My old recipe calls for the addition of Parmesan cheese, but no need to go there if you are vegan (with benefits) and generally lactose averse. Heather herself told me that roasted sunflower seeds and nutritional yeast can mimic the sharp tang of Parmesan just fine. If you are an expert in international sauces, dips, and spreads–and I mean, who isn’t?–you know that by switching in walnuts for almonds we have found ourselves just one dash of cumin and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses away from the Middle Eastern dip known as muhamara.

But Spanish this will be!*

*And not just because it is my favorite language. Aside from English. And even then, I don’t always know… In all honesty, it really is amazing how something as simple as swapping out cumin for smoked paprika and crushed red pepper can suddenly take you across countries or continents.

And adding tomato sauce. For some reason that makes it Spanish.

in the middle of winter, i don't even flirt with the notion of fresh tomatoes.

Regardless of origin, fusion, or international alignment, I really outdid myself with this one.

And I know I say that a lot. [But seriously. Es muy rico, y'all.]

And I know YOU find yourself saying, “But what do I do with it?” a lot when you come around here. My standard response is, of course, eat it. However, you can make like the Spanish and serve it with fish or chicken if you are an omnivore, or perhaps portabella or tempeh steaks if you are not. Use it like pasta sauce or just dip bread or vegetables in it. [I would like to make a sincere case for raw mushrooms or roasted cauliflower.]

Now stop asking questions and get to the kitchen. Vamanos! Toasted Walnut Romesco

[Makes 2 cups]

  • 1/3 cup (1.5 oz) walnuts, toasted
  • 2 Tbsp. (o.5 oz.) hazelnuts, toasted
  • 1 12 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a food processor.

Process until nuts have been finely chopped, and consistency is fairly smooth.

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