I have a friend that has always been nice enough to sample any new recipes that I cook up in the kitchen. That is, until she became a vegan. These days it’s a little tougher to come up with dishes that I can share with her but this is one of my favorite dip/sauce recipes and it happens to be vegan! The list of ingredients may seem long but it comes together quickly, freezes well and will keep refrigerated for at least a week. You can use it as a topping for grilled vegetables, a spread for sandwiches, or mix it into pasta sauce. Today I served it with some cauliflower that I roasted in a hot oven, the high temperature brings out a nutty sweet flavor that really goes well with the sauce.
Roasted Cauliflower with Romesco Sauce
For the Romesco
- 1 large tomato (1/2 lb), cored
- 1/2 head garlic sliced in half crosswise
- 1 jalapeno pepper
- 1 (1/2-oz) dried ancho chile*
- 2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons hazelnuts, toasted and loose skins rubbed off with a kitchen towel while warm
- 2 tablespoons blanched almonds
- 1 (1/2-inch-thick) slice firm white bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
For the cauliflower
- 1 medium head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the romesco
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Line a small baking pan with foil.
Roast tomato, jalapeno and garlic in pan until browned but not burnt, about 30 minutes.
While vegetables are roasting, slit chile open lengthwise and discard stem and seeds, then tear chile into small pieces. Heat oil in an 8- to 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then add chile and cook, stirring, until fragrant and chile turns a brighter red, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer chile with a slotted spoon to a heatproof bowl.
Add hazelnuts to skillet along with almonds, bread, garlic, and paprika and cook, stirring, until bread and garlic are golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add mixture (including oil) to chile in bowl and cool slightly.
Peel tomato, then coarsely chop and transfer (with juices) to a food processor. Seed the jalapeno, squeeze the garlic out of the skins and add to the processor. Add bread and chile mixture, roasted peppers, water, vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and purée until smooth. Thin with water if desired and season with salt.
For the cauliflower
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F.
Toss cauliflower with oil and salt in a large bowl. Spread in 1 layer in a large shallow baking pan (1 inch deep) and roast, stirring and turning over occasionally, until tender and golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes.
To serve, plate the cauliflower and top with the sauce