Continuing with the nut theme after muhammara, here is scrumptious nut, roasted pepper, tomato-based sauce teamed with chickpeas. Romesco sauce is a popular Spanish sauce from the Catalan Tarragona province and the variations are endless depending on whether the sauce is served as a dip, with vegetables, meatballs, fish, etc. The New Spanish Table, an enticing, Spanish cookbook, has 4 different recipes of the romesco sauce as each is tweaked to its accompaniment.
The sauce reminds me a bit of muhammara as the main flavours are roasted red peppers and nuts. The Romesco sauce has a heavier comforting tomato presence and the use of almonds is a bit more creamy than walnuts. As I prefer cooking vegetarian at home, I was excited to try it with chickpeas when I saw Joanne posted it on Eats Well With Others, who had adapted it from Veganomicon.
I wasn’t disappointed because the Romesco sauce worked wonderfully with the inherent nuttiness of chickpeas. This comforting dish is great year-round as canned tomatoes were easy to use before the juicy, ripe ones are available locally. I roasted my own peppers which added some time, but it was a fabulous, easy meal served alongside rice.
One mention about portion sizes, as I am still working my way through leftovers (which are really tasty, too). The original recipe says serves 4-6 but it really makes a lot of food. I’d gather around 8 servings. It could be due to the bigger cans of chickpeas in Canada (19 oz compared to the 15 oz in the recipe) and I also threw in an extra red pepper. Although this is not the first time I have run into discrepant portion sizes. I blame it on the bigger “super-sized” American meals! Has anyone else noticed this? As much as I loved it, I might half the recipe next time unless I am feeding a crowd.
1 cup brown rice
3 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and deseeded
1/2 cup blanched almonds or ground almonds
28 oz canned diced/whole tomatoes, undrained
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1/2 tsp chili flakes (this could be increased if you want more heat)
1/4 cup red wine
2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
2 (19 oz) cans chickpeas, drained
salt, to taste
1. Set up the rice, either in a rice cooker or on the stovetop as per the package’s instructions.
2. If roasting your own peppers, preheat the oven broiler. Line a small roasting pan with aluminum foil. Place the pepper halves in the pan, cut side down, and place in the oven on the shelf closest to the broiler. Broil until the pepper skins are completely black, about 8-15 minutes. Remove from the oven, wrap the pepper in the foil and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and rub off the skins of the peppers. Set peppers aside.
3. Grind the almonds into crumbs with a food processor. Set aside.
4. Puree the tomatoes (undrained) and roasted red peppers together until smooth. Pour into a large bowl and set aside.
5. Heat a large frypan on medium heat with the olive oil. Saute the garlic, shallots, and chili flakes for 4-5 minutes. Pour in the wine and stir. Simmer for 1 minute. Add the tomato/pepper puree, vinegar, sugar, thyme, and rosemary. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.
6. Add the ground almonds and stir. Fold in the chickpeas and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, add salt to taste, and serve over the brown rice (or grain of your choice).
Serves 8 (the recipe says serves 4-6, but we have bigger cans of beans in Canada).