We’re making dinner at home on Valentine’s Day. Every course is a shade of red or pink (and in one case, purple grilled cabbage steak).

The Romesco Soup for the second course is bright red, like Romesco Sauce, whose ingredients, including ground peppers, garlic, and almonds, are included in the soup.

It’s packed with flavor, yet only 160 calories per serving!

Romesco is one of the signature sauces of the Catalonia region of Spain. Think of it as Spain’s answer to Italian pesto. There’s more about Romesco Sauce below.
 
 
RECIPE: ROMESCO SOUP

Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 15 minutes. Thanks to Pampered Chef for the recipe.

Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • Canola oil for spritzing
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) sliced almonds
  • 1 medium onion
  • ½ tbsp (7 mL) canola oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 jar (24 ounces or 660 g) roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1 can (15 oz or 398 mL) tomato sauce
  • 6 ounces (175 g) fresh spinach leaves
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) salt
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp (1 mL) black pepper
  • 2 cups (500 mL) water
  • ½ cup (125 mL) Israeli couscous
  • 1 cup (250 mL) unsweetened almond milk
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the almonds in a Dutch oven and pray them with oil. Microwave, uncovered, on HIGH for 5 minutes. Set aside.

    2. CUT the onion into chunks. Chop coarsely.

    3. HEAT the oil in the Dutch oven over medium heat for 3–5 minutes, or until it’s shimmering. Add the onion and garlic. Cook for 3–5 minutes, or until the onions are softened, stirring occasionally.

    4. COARSELY CHOP the red peppers. Add the peppers, tomato sauce, spinach, salt, paprika, black pepper and water to the Dutch oven. Increase the heat to medium‑high and bring to a simmer.

    5. ADD the couscous. Cook, covered, for 8–10 minutes, or until the couscous is tender. Remove from the heat, stir in the almond milk, and top with the toasted almonds.
     
     
    Nutrients per serving of about 1½ cups/375 mL: Calories 160, Total Fat 4 g, Saturated Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 640 mg, Carbohydrate 26 g, Fiber 7 g, Sugars 3 g, Protein 4 g,

     
    WHAT IS ROMESCO SAUCE?

    Romesco is one of the signature sauces from the Catalonia region of Spain.

    Note that it isn’t romanesco sauce. There is no “romanesco” sauce. Romanesco is a language; the sauce is romesco. It’s a common confusion in the U.S.

    Romesco is a pungent, smooth, rich red sauce made from red peppers, tomatoes, ground almonds or other nuts, olive oil, garlic, and cayenne pepper.

    It originated in Tarragona, a port city on the Mediterranean Sea in the province of Catalonia in northeast Spain.

    Though the exact origin is unclear (as is the meaning of the name), it is believed that the local fishermen made it to eat with their catch.

    Some point to Roman origins, from the time that Tarragona was a provincial capital of Rome. But whatever form the sauce took then, tomatoes and chiles only arrived in Spain in the 16th [source].

     


    [1] Romesco gets its bright red color from roasted red peppers and tomato sauce. It certainly brightens up a gray day (all photos © Pampered Chef).


    [2] If you don’t like to chop with a knife, this chopper from Pampered Chef may become your friend. The cheap models don’t work very well.


    [3] A kitchen spritzer lets you use better oil than Pam. You can also use it to spray vinaigrette on salad, spray flavored oil onto meat, fish and vegetables, and more. This spritzer is from Pampered Chef.


    [4] Romesco, the sauce, is served with just about anything, including soft cheeses like burrata (photo © L’Amico Restaurant | New York City).

     
    Romesco has become a popular sauce beyond seafood, enjoyed with meat, poultry, stews and vegetables as well as for a dip and a bread spread.

    Some chefs have even used the flavorful sauce underneath a creamy—but somewhat bland—burrata cheese (photo #4).

    As with gazpacho, every cook has his/her own touches.

  • The nuts can be any mixture of roasted or raw almonds, pine nuts, hazelnuts or walnuts.
  • In Catalonia, the chiles can be mild bitxo chiles (red chiles similar to Anaheim/New Mexico chiles) and/or nyora peppers (a sun dried, small, round variety of red bell pepper).
  • Flour or ground stale bread is sometimes used as a thickener or to provide texture.
  • Other common ingredients variously employed include roasted tomatoes, red wine vinegar and onions.
  • Leaves of fennel or mint are added when the sauce is served with fish and other seafood [source].
  •  
    Start with the recipe above; then think of how you’d like to vary your next batch of Romesco Soup.

      


    THE NIBBLE Blog – Adventures In The World Of Fine Food

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