I’m seeing RED and loving it…tomatoes, peppers

This past weekend was full of wonderful flavors and new recipes. We hosted a dinner for 6 on Friday and then had friends stay with us for the rest of the weekend. I always love trying out new recipes on these occasions, though our guests are never told before they come that they are my guinea pigs:)

Remember the Romanesco sauce I wanted to try, well it was delicious.  I found a great recipe and served it with lentil and rice stuffed patty pan squash. It would be good served with just about anything!  I didn’t use the bread or the red wine or the ancho chili (couldn’t find one) I also made a simple pasta dish that Violet (one of our weekend guests) shared. See both recipes below and enjoy.

ROMANESCO SAUCE

This garlicky sauce, which originated in the city of Tarragona, has tons of variations and many uses—it’s served with salads, grilled vegetables, meat, chicken, or fish, or stirred into fish stews. Try it tossed with pasta or as a sandwich spread. It keeps in the refrigerator for at least a week.Yields 2-1/2 cups.

4 medium-size ripe tomatoes (1-3/4 lb. total), cored
1 head garlic, sliced in half crosswise
2 Tbs. plus 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 oz. (1/4 cup) blanched almonds
1-1/4 oz. (1/4 cup) peeled hazelnuts
1 dried ancho chile, cored, seeded, slit, and opened so it lies fairly flat (OPTIONAL)
1 tsp. kosher salt or sea salt; more to taste
2 to 3 Tbs. red-wine vinegar
2 Tbs. red wine (dry or fruity, but not oaky), if needed
1 slice stale white bread, torn, if needed

Heat the oven to 375°F. Put the tomatoes and one half of the garlic head in a baking pan. Drizzle about 1 Tbs. of the olive oil into the cored tomato wells and on top of the garlic half. Roast until the tomatoes and garlic are well caramelized but not burnt, about 90 minutes. From the remaining half head of garlic, coarsely chop 1 Tbs. garlic and put it in a food processor.

Slow oven roasting brings out the sugars in tomatoes and garlic. Get them caramelized but not burnt.

While the tomatoes roast, heat about 1 Tbs. of the olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Toast the almonds and hazelnuts in the pan, shaking the pan or stirring so they don’t burn, until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Cool the nuts on a paper towel and then put them in the food processor.

If using a dried chile, sear it in the same small pan over medium-high heat (keep it flat with a spatula or a fork) until a smoke wisp appears, about 10 seconds per side. Soak it in 1 cup hot tap water until soft, about 15 minutes. Drain and put the chile in the food processor.

Start with the toasted nuts, chile, and tomatoes to get the purée underway.

When the tomatoes and garlic are caramelized, let them cool. Pinch off the tomato skins (discard them) and squeeze out the garlic pulp. Put the tomatoes and garlic pulp in the processor. Add the salt and start the processor, pouring in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil in a slow, steady stream, as if making mayonnaise. Add the vinegar, pulse to incorporate, and taste; the sauce should have some zing, so add more if needed. Add salt to taste. Process the romesco until it comes together as a sauce but not so much as to lose its coarse, nutty texture. The sauce should be thick and creamy. If it seems too thick, add 1 or 2 Tbs. red wine. If it’s too thin, add bread, pulsing a few more times.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : per 1/4 cup; Calories (kcal): 170; Fat (g): 15; Fat Calories (kcal): 130; Saturated Fat (g): 2; Protein (g): 3; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10; Carbohydrates (g): 8; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): 220; Cholesterol (mg): 0; Fiber (g): 2;

From Fine Cooking 46 , pp. 34-39 Bill Devin

FRESH TOMATO PASTA

500 gms whole wheat pasta

4 cups chopped fresh ripe tomatoes (I used a variety of types including some cherry tomatoes, heritage varieties, romas and others.

2 whole sweet red bell peppers, seeded and chopped

2 tbsp fresh oregano leaves,chopped

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup fresh basil,chopped (reserve 2 tbsp for end)

1/4 cup fresh parsley,chopped (reserve 1 tbsp for end)

1/4-1/2 cup good quality cold-pressed olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

Add prepared tomatoes and peppers,  herbs and salt to a large tin bowl.

Cook pasta a la dente.

Heat olive oil in on medium heat. Add minced garlic and toss for just a few seconds, until fragrant. Remove from heat and immediately pour over tomato mixture. Stir to combine and pour over pasta. Top with reserved herbs, fresh ground pepper and serve immediately.

This is surprisingly easy and so delicious. I love summer eating.

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