21 June 2010

Is My Face Red (and White) with Romesco, Grilled Bread and Shrimp While Eating Good and Feeling Good?

Romesco with Grilled Bread and Shrimp

Today I am continuing with my "Is My Face Red (and White)" challenge. Canada Day is fast approaching and as stated in this previous post not only will we be wearing red and white T-shirts and sun hats at the MTBT household (the colours of the Canadian flag) this year, but, we will also be enjoying a feast of red and white dishes... from appetizers to dessert.  I have dreamed up a red and white menu that would make our ancestors proud and one that celebrates the Canadian spirit. After all what is a celebration without food!!! And what is Canada Day without red and white somewhere in the picture, or as in this case the star of the show. My lead up to Canada Day with my red and white menu begins with some lofty appetizers. I will share the final meal on Canada Day with the main dish and dessert...all dressed in their best red and white finery.

Of course you don't have to be Canadian to enjoy these summertime favourites. You just have to have a love of good food which as bloggers I know you do!!!Each recipe uses fresh local ingredients and celebrates our local producers and farmers. I can't think of a better way to celebrate Canada or any country in the world than to take pride in what we have to offer from coast to coast.

So far we have made an appetizer of Tomato Salad with Pickled Shallots and Goat Cheese Croutons which was a winner! Today I am making Romesco with Grilled Bread and Shrimp similar to one of the classic Catalan dishes calcotada which consists of grilled bread topped with grilled spring onions and grilled shrimp. In Spain, it's traditionally served only in the Spring, but if you ask me this is good enough to eat any time!!The romesco is a deep ruby red, the croutons are white and the shrimp are a pinky-white to match our theme.

 Is romesco becoming the new pesto? Anyone who follows MTBT knows of my pesto obsession. It shows up often and in many forms and interesting combinations. The increased interest in Spanish cooking and tapas is doing the same for romesco in my books. You will find many versions of this same recipe throughout the blogosphere.

Romesco sauce is a rich, dense, powerful sauce which originated in the Catalan region of Spain. The term “sauce” is used loosely because it is more like a dip, chutney, or side, with a definitive texture and flavour. A little bit of effort goes a long way in pulling together this appetizer since both the ingredients and preparation are very simple. It is typically made from almonds, pine nuts, and/or hazelnuts, roasted garlic, olive oil and Ñora peppers (a smaller, sweet, dried variety of red bell pepper). Other common ingredients include roasted tomatoes, red wine vinegar and onion. Leaves of fennel or mint can also be added, particularly if served with fish or escargot. It is perhaps most often served with seafood, but can also be served with a wide variety of other foods including poultry and vegetables, particularly calçots.

 While red peppers and garlic are included in romesco sauce, the sauce is not intended to set your mouth on fire but is meant to add a hint of a fiery kick at the end of each mouthful. Ñora peppers are small, round, intense and sweet.  Ñoras are available in stores supplied by Spanish importers or online. But since the peppers weren’t always so easy to find outside Spain, many cooks have improvised, using roasted red peppers, a bigger hit of paprika or replacing the Ñoras with ancho peppers or something even hotter. They are traditionally used to boost flavor in stews, soups or in paella. They are also used to make sausages or "chorizos". Be brave and discover this authentic pepper from Spain!
 The flavour of Romesco has been described as slightly earthy and almost musky, with a rich, buttery feel courtesy of the nuts. Many people also describe romesco as loamy, earthy, or mossy. All I can say is it may have replaced pesto here at MTBT.

In the recipe below Romesco makes an excellent spread for grilled bread. It could be a filling and healthy snack, or it can be served in more modest portions as a taster or appetizer.  Let's beef up the Canadian factor and use some seasonal British Columbia spot prawns which are still available until July 1st....Canada Day.

What would you make for a red and white themed party?

 "Earthy, toothsome, definitely habit-forming, romesco is rough magic in a bowl."
Amy Scattergood -LA Times

**Romesco with Grilled Bread and Shrimp**

1 pound tail-on large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Best-quality olive oil, preferably Spanish
1 loaf pain rustic or country white bread, sliced 3/4 -inch thick on the diagonal
Sea salt
Romesco sauce recipe follows)

Heat a grill over medium heat. Toss the shrimp with a little olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Brush the bread with olive oil and sprinkle with salt also.

Cook the shrimp, rotating for even grilling just until the flesh is opaque and firm.

 Clean the surface of the grill and grill the bread, rotating for even grilling. Serve the warm bread, shrimp and onions on a platter with a large bowl of romesco sauce in the center for dipping if you like. I spread the Romesco onto the bread and topped each with grilled shrimp. Whichever you prefer.

**Basic Romesco Sauce**

2 ounces dried Ñora peppers (about 8 to 10 peppers?)- if unavailable use Ancho peppers instead
2 large red bell peppers
1 medium onion, unpeeled
4 Roma tomatoes
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons best-quality olive oil, divided
1/4 cup hazelnuts
1/4 cup Marcona almonds
1 ounce good-quality country white bread, sliced, crusts removed
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sweet paprika (preferably Spanish-Pimentón is the sweetly smoky flavor in everything from chorizo sausage to paella)
2 tablespoons sherry/wine vinegar

 Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and heat the oven to 375 degrees.

 Cover the Ñora peppers with boiling water and allow to soften for at least 30 minutes, then stem, seed and reserve.

Toss tomatoes, bell peppers, and onion in small baking dish with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Roast until partially charred, turning every 15 minutes, about 45 minutes. Cover with foil; let stand 15 minutes. Peel and seed tomatoes, and bell peppers; set aside. Peel onion; coarsely chop; set aside.
 While the peppers are softening, toast the nuts separately until golden and aromatic, 8 to 10 minutes. If the hazelnuts have skins, remove their skins by rolling them in a kitchen towel once they are cool. Set the nuts aside and raise the oven temperature to broil.
 In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and fry the bread until golden brown. Cool and set aside.

 In a food processor, coarsely chop the garlic, salt, fried bread and nuts. Add the Ñora peppers, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, paprika and vinegar and process to a rough paste. Slowly pour in the remaining olive oil in a steady stream and process until just combined.

Makes about 2 cups

And speaking of parties I am submitting this second dish to Nuria of Spanish Recipes for her event called Eating Good Feeling Good. Since she is from Spain this dish that I chose some time ago fits in so perfectly. Nuria's bi-monthly event is not about diet food but more about consciously focusing on eating healthy, fresh, seasonal and varied food. This fits in perfectly with my quest to become more of a locavore. Do make a point of reading more about this important event here . We'll post about a different food every few months while creating greater awareness of how these foods fit into your healthy diet.

This month her chosen ingredient is olive oil. Olive oil has been used in Mediterranean countries for thousands of years and has quickly been ingrained in North America and other parts of the world. It’s actually a pure fruit juice and unlike most seed or vegetable oils, it does not require any heat or chemicals to extract the oil and needs no refinement. The oil can be consumed as is immediately after pressing.

 The reason olive oil is so good for us is because it’s high in mono unsaturated fat, vitamin E, and antioxidants.

Cooking with olive oil is like cooking with wine. Never use a wine or olive oil that does not taste good to you. An inferior one will leave an aftertaste. If you do the taste test and compare the "pure" to the "extra-virgin" and then you'll understand the difference.

When cooking with olive oil, I save my extra-virgin and pricier oils for salads, dressings, and vinaigrette. You can drizzle it over slices of crusty bread or onto open-face sandwiches. I use it on a baked potato or add it to mashed potatoes instead of butter. Extra virgin olive oil tastes great on cooked vegetables or brushed onto fish or meat before serving.  It goes a long way on the path to eating good and feeling good!

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  1. Fantastic! a perfect combination!



  2. I'm pretty sure romesco sauce IS the new pesto. Or the new bruschetta. Or tapenade. Whichever one is your spread of choice for crostini.

    This red and white dish sounds fabulous! Bread, cheese, and romesco...could it get any better?

    I am checking out the olive oil blog event! I think I have to submit something seeing as how I couldn't live without the stuff!

  3. I do love shrimp...and I don't think I need to wait for our Canada Day to make your recipe...do I?
    Great flavours and texture combination ;o)
    Flavourful wishes, Claudia

  4. mmmh this looks delicious! i have just come back from spain and the tapas are getting more and more eclectic over there - i saw a wonderful pintxo at one place that looked very similar to this.. will definitely be trying it!

  5. Wow, your romesco sauce looks fantastic. Love the addition of hazelnuts and almonds. This is a perfect summertime accompaniment to a fresh salad.

  6. Great combination, this looks absolutely wonderful!

  7. I do love the flavors in romesco sauce. What's not to like about peppers and nuts? Another creative red and white idea!

  8. A brotherhood between Canada and Catalonia!!!! LOVE IT ♥

    Thanks again for submitting another fantastic recipe to the event... I must say that your romesco sauce is deliciosa :D

    Olive oil makes the difference ;D

  9. This is such a FABULOUS alternative to bruschetta as a party appetizer.

  10. That Romesco Sauce! Yum. The whole diah looks fab but I can think of a zillion ways to use that sauce :)

  11. Wow, what an awesome dish...love the idea of matching bread and shrimp...great presentation :-)

  12. I've never made romesco, but it's been on my to-try list for a while. The combination of hazelnuts and almonds in this recipe sounds fantastic!

  13. Val this looks absolutely delicious. I think you know how much we love shrimp in this household! :)

  14. even though my taste for shrimp is nonexistent, i'm liking the look of this little nosh--well done, val!

  15. I adore romesco sauce Val, so great with grilled shrimp and veggies!

  16. What a great dish of red and white! Romesco is a brilliant sauce and very versatile Val...perfectly paired with prawns.

  17. What a terrific romesco sauce. Can't beat almonds and hazelnuts together.

  18. I want this tapas for brekkie....can't go wrong with romesco and shrimp.

  19. Your sauce sounds delicious and your photo has made me hungry. I am so enjoying the preparations you are making for Canada Day. Will we get to see the T-shirts? I loved your background on Romesco sauce and look forward to seeing more recipes in which you use it. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  20. Hi Val -
    YAY for patriotism!
    Your sauce sounds great!

  21. Were there invitations being sent for the Canada Day celebration??? This simple and very beautiful appetizer makes for red and white heaven.

  22. So gorgeous! And yay for a red and white Canada Day menu.

  23. Romesco is a great idea for a red and white party! Sounds delicious with grilled bread and shrimp too.

  24. Love the sound of the Romesco sauce. Looking forward to the rest of the red and white menu. Great post.

  25. Oh, I LOVE this!!! :-) I've never had Romesco sauce but now I simply must. :-) Have a marvelous celebration my fellow Canadian! :-)

  26. If Romesco is the new basil, then I'm on board with it and this crostino with shrimp. Red and white foods? Has to include tomato and mozzarella (can we sneak in some green basil for Italy's colors?)

  27. Oh wow! The Romesco Sauce sounds fantastic. Great photos! I am up for it and will give this a try.

  28. Romesco sauce on shrimp-heaven-my favorite way is just on some crusty french bread !

  29. I love your red and white post for Canada Day! Your recipe looks delicious! I made pesto tonight but I haven't ever tried making romesco. I'll have to try it, I know I would love it!

  30. This looks wonderful! Great photo!

  31. AnonymousJune 23, 2010

    A perfect dish for the theme! I haven't had a romesco sauce yet, must try very soon!

  32. Simply gorgeous! As with several other commenters, I need to give this Romesco sauce a try.


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