It may seem a bit brazen to take a classic Catalan sauce, remove most of the olive oil to lighten it up, and declare it addictively delicious. But that’s what my dinner-party guests called this romesco sauce when I served it with poached shrimp and roasted cauliflower. I try to keep a batch on hand for spur-of-the-moment entertaining, as it keeps for several months in the refrigerator.
2 medium ancho chiles (see Cook’s Note)
4 large cloves garlic
1 large roasted red bell pepper/capsicum coarsely chopped
1 cup/115 g blanched almonds toasted
1 can (14.5 oz/415 g) diced tomatoes drained
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
1 tsp pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
1/4 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
"Skinny Dippers: Roasted Cauliflower, Poached Shrimp, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Crostini, Herbed Cheddar Cheese Straws
To prepare the ancho chiles, remove the stems and seeds, then soak the chiles in hot water to cover until softened, about 45 minutes. Drain well and tear into small pieces.
In the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process the garlic until finely minced. Add the chiles, roasted pepper, almonds, tomatoes, vinegar, salt, pimentón, sugar, and cayenne. Pulse until uniformly minced, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil and process just until combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (Feel free to add more cayenne if you desire a spicier sauce.) Transfer to a serving bowl, cover, and set aside for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld.
This sauce keeps, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. Remove from the refrigerator 45 minutes before serving. Serve at room temperature."
The dried form of a poblano pepper is called an ancho chile. Ancho means “wide” in Spanish, which accurately describes the shape of this large, heart-shaped pepper. Deep reddish brown to near black in color, anchos are sweeter than other dried chiles, and their heat ranges from mild to strong. They are often ground into a powder; whole anchos can be soaked in water for 30 to 45 minutes to rehydrate before use.