This is one of Spain’s greatest sauces. It originated in Tarragona, but I’m sure it will soon find its way into all corners of the U.S. It is a wonderful match for vegetables, seafood and meats. One of my favorite ways to serve it is with plump seared scallops.
Yield: 2 cups of sauce. Serves 4 to 6
For the sauce:
½ cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for coating the vegetables
1 red bell pepper
6 ripe plum tomatoes
1 head garlic, halved, papery outer skin removed
1 Spanish onion
3 ñora chili peppers (or any other dried sweet chili pepper)
¼ cup blanched almonds
1 ounce white bread, crust removed
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon pimentón (Spanish sweet paprika)
½ tablespoon salt
For the scallops:
2 tablespoons Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
8 large sea scallops
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
|Brush a thin film of olive oil over the pepper, tomatoes, garlic, and onion and lay them in a roasting pan. Roast for about 25 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft. Remove from the oven and once cool enough to handle, peel the pepper, tomatoes, garlic, and onion. Seed the pepper and tomatoes and cut off their tops.
Meanwhile, place the ñora chilis in a bowl and cover with hot water. Soak for 15 minutes. Strain, and remove the seeds from the peppers. Place the chilis in a blender and puree until smooth. Pass the puree through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a small sauté pan over low heat. Add the almonds and sauté them until just browning , about 1 minute. Transfer the almonds to a bowl and set aside.
Raise the heat to medium and add the bread to the same sauté pan. Toast the bread until it’s a nice brown color, about 30 second on each side. Remove the bread and set aside.
Add the pureed ñora chilis to the sauté pan and cook for 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat.
Place the peeled roasted vegetables into the blender. Add the almonds, toasted bread, toasted ñora chili paste, vinegar, pimentón, and the remaining 7 tablespoons of olive oil. Blend into a thick sauce and add salt to taste. Pour the romesco sauce into a bowl and set aside.
Prepare the scallops:
Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and when hot, add the scallops and sear on both sides, until the scallops are just cooked and slightly opaque, about 30 seconds on each side. Season to taste with salt and set aside.
To serve, spoon some romesco sauce onto a serving plate. (Reserve the remaining romesco sauce, covered in the refrigerator, for another use). Place the seared scallops on top. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and garnish with parsley.