Although romesco sauce is a versatile accompaniment to fish, chicken, bread and grilled vegetables, it has a traditional use in Spain. From late winter through early spring, Catalans celebrate the Calçotada Festival, where freshly harvested calçots (a giant variety of scallion) are charred over a grill and wrapped in newspaper to steam. Once tender, the outer skin is removed and the bulb of the onion dipped into the romesco sauce for eating.
Typically, I serve my version of romesco sauce with herbed salmon cakes. It also pairs nicely with shellfish, lamb and grilled asparagus.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + 2 tablespoons reserved
2 scallions, minced
1 yellow bell pepper, minced
2 celery stalks, minced
1 teaspoon old bay seasoning
1/2 pound shredded cooked salmon
3 tablespoons fresh mint, minced
3 tablespoons fresh parley, minced
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
2 large eggs
1/2 cup seasoned panko breadcrumbs + 1/2 cup reserved
7.5 oz jar roasted red bell peppers, drained
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 sandwich roll, diced
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the scallion, pepper and celery and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the old bay seasoning and cook for another minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Transfer vegetable mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the salmon, mint, parsley, mayonnaise and mustard. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix in the eggs and the breadcrumbs. Form mixture into six small cakes. Coat with the reserved breadcrumbs. Heat the remaining oil in a clean sauté pan over medium-high and cook the salmon cakes until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a serving plate.
In a food processor or blender, puree the peppers, garlic, almonds, vinegar, diced sandwich roll and olive oil until a thick paste forms. Transfer to a serving dish using a rubber spatula. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Yield: 6 servings