I’m a great fan of the Spanish Romesco sauce, and while I love it in its classic form, I also find its basic structure an adaptable framework that will support a lot of variations. Right now I’m digging up last year’s Autumn King carrots to make room for a new planting. They are too tough now for eating fresh, but they are still sweet and flavorful, so I’m using some to make roasted carrot Romesco sauce.
To start, turn the oven on to 500 degrees. Then one large Autumn King carrot (or two regular carrots) is cut in slices. One small onion is cut in quarters. Three cloves of garlic are separated from their head but not peeled. I use two roasted tomatoes out of my freezer, but you can put in two tomatoes, either fresh or canned plum tomatoes, to roast with the other veggies. Toss the veggies lightly in olive oil and put them on a sheet pan to roast, watching carefully because they can burn quickly.
When the carrot looks roasted but not burned and the onion is softened and translucent, take the veggies out. Skin the onion and peel the garlic cloves. Put all the roasted stuff in the food processor with half a cup of roasted almonds and grind as finely as possible. If you are using pre-roasted tomatoes, add them now and grind with the rest. Add two teaspoons of any of the following chiles: ground red New Mexico chile, or Spanish Nora chile, or half Spanish smoked Pimenton and half ground chipotle chile. This last mixture adds a beautiful heat and smoky edge, and is my own favorite. Process, and add two tablespoons of either lemon juice or sherry vinegar. I prefer the sherry vinegar, but a Romesco with lemon can be good with shrimp. Now add really good olive oil until the mixture comes together as a somewhat loose paste. Add more chile if needed. Salt to taste; it’s a condiment, and I like it on the salty side. Serve with roasted vegetables, or meat or chicken roasted rather plainly, or slices of baguette, or cold shrimp, or blackened fish, or nearly anything.
There are lots of other possibilities for a good flexible Romesco. Roasted peeled red peppers are traditional. Roasted winter squash or sweet potato might be good, and I can imagine using roasted kale or chard leaves for a really dark, earthy, and healthy version. In my opinion the roasted tomatoes are necessary, but I’ve seen recipes that don’t include them. Some people prefer toasted bread crumbs to nuts to add body. And I can’t tell you how much sauce this will make, because I don’t know how much olive oil will taste right to you.
I recently ate it with tiny crisp-fried bits of chicken and low-carb flaxseed focaccia and it was very, very good.