18 March 2016

Veganomicon's Chickpeas Romesco

Every so often I just get sick of everything we eat. It usually happens once or twice a year, such that when Shana and I plan our meals absolutely nothing sounds delicious. It was in a bout of hating everything that I turned to my cookbooks to find inspiration. Upon paging through my trusty copy of Veganomicon, I came across something that tickled my taste buds, simply upon reading the recipe. The recipe in question was one for Chickpeas Romesco.

Romesco sauce is of Spanish origin (northeastern Spain, arguably Tarragona according to this NYTimes article), although similar types of sauces exist in other places. Generally, romesco is a pepper, tomato, and nut-based mixture, ranging from thin-ish to spreadably thick. This recipe takes a bit of prep-work, only because you need to toast almonds and roast peppers before you can actually make the sauce. But! The extra steps of preparation really ARE worth it, as they add such wonderful depth to the flavor. If that still seems out of reach for you, many grocery stores carry toasted almonds and roasted red peppers, but make sure they are not packed in brine.*

This dish is worthy of your next dinner party, especially if you serve it over saffron-garlic rice! We brought it to our monthly vegan potluck in February and it got rave reviews. We always share recipes, but forgot after February's dinner. This month, people pointedly asked for this recipe, which I'll take as a good sign that it was well-received.
You can see the chickpeas romesco over the saffron-garlic rice we like,
as well as another dish from February's vegan potluck. 

Chickpeas Romesco
This is ever-so-slightly modified from the recipe of the same name in Veganomicon (p. 123).

1/3-1/2 c. sliced almonds
2 red bell peppers
1, 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, fire-roasted if you can get them!
3 T. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced finely
2 shallots, mined finely
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced finely (leave some seeds for more heat)
1/4 c. white wine or veggie broth
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled
2, 15 oz. cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste

1. About an hour before you really plan to cook, roast the red peppers by cutting them lengthwise, removing the stem and seeds, gently spraying/coating them in olive oil, and roast in preheated 425 degree oven for 20-25 minutes (use parchment paper or something else to prevent sticking). Remove and let cool.
2. Toast the almonds in a dry skillet or toaster oven (my preference). Let them cool for about 10 minutes and then grind in a food processor until they are very fine. Remove and set aside.
3. Puree the roasted red peppers and tomatoes in the food processor, working in batches if need be.
4. In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute the garlic, shallots, and jalapeno in the oil until the shallots are golden. Make sure to pay attention and stir regularly so the garlic doesn't burn.
5. Pour in the wine (or veggie broth) and simmer for 1 minute.
6. Add the pureed pepper/tomato mixture, vinegar, sugar, thyme, and rosemary, then turn up the heat a bit to bring to a boil.
7. After reaching a boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
8. Add the ground almonds, stirring well to combine, then add the chickpeas. Simmer uncovered for 20-25 minutes. The sauce will thicken slightly.
9. Season with salt and pepper and cool a bit before eating.

Helpful Hints
  • I found that even using the largest pan I have that isn't a stockpot, I still get a lot of splatter as the romesco simmers. Thus, make sure to use a really big pan, keep the lid on part of the way, or invest in one of those metal splatter shields, which is what I do. 
  • You could easily make this into an appetizer! Toast slices of baguette and spoon the romesco on top. In Spain, romesco sauce is also used as a dip for veggies. 
  • If you opt for the veggie broth over the wine and use a soy-free broth, this dish is totally soy-free. 
  • By itself, this dish is gluten-free, but not all romesco sauces are since some use bread crumbs to thicken the sauce. Since we often serve it over rice, it remains gluten-free. 

*The local grocery store we frequent only has roasted red peppers in brine (think pickling liquid), so I just make my own. It's really easy! If you need to by them packed in brine, cut down on the red wine vinegar by 1/2-1 tsp.

The post "Veganomicon's Chickpeas Romesco" originally appeared on Maggie's LesVegan Kitchen.