The Edgy Veggie

Wake up Thanksgiving with romesco



Romesco Sauce

This romesco, made in a food processor or a blender, aims to deliver maximum flavor with minimal time and arcane ingredients. It may be made several days ahead and refrigerated. Allow it to come to room temperature before serving with roasted, raw or steamed vegetables. It’s also nice slathered on crusty bread.

2/3 cup blanched, whole almonds

1 mild dried chile, such as an ancho

1 slice baguette, torn into pieces

3 garlic cloves, peeled

1 or 2 ripe plum tomatoes or 2/3 cup canned fire-roasted tomatoes, drained

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika

1/3 cup olive oil

Sea salt to taste

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Pour nuts onto a small rimmed baking sheet and toast until they darken slightly and smell buttery, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, set chile in a small bowl and add enough boiling water to cover. When cool, drain pepper. Remove and discard seeds and stem.

Drop bread, garlic, chile and almonds into a food processor or blender. Process for a minute or so, until a thick paste forms, scraping the sides. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, paprika and olive oil and pulse. The sauce should be of a hummus-like consistency, thick but not gluey. Add a tablespoon or two of water if it seems too dry. Add sea salt to taste. Makes about 1 1/2 cups, 8 servings.

Per serving: 283 calories (47 percent from fat), 15 g fat (1.7 g saturated, 10.5 g monounsaturated), 0 cholesterol, 8.5 g protein, 30 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 293 mg sodium.

Turkey may be a Thanksgiving tradition, but as vegetarians know, the so-called sides, the fabulous array of seasonal vegetables, are the real stars of the show, and friendlier to fowl, besides.

Too often, though, Thanksgiving encourages us to hide vegetables’ light and delight under a bushel, candying the yams, creaming the onions, drowning the mashed potatoes in butter. And let us not talk about this tiresome trend of putting bacon where it does not belong. While it’s said turkey’s tryptophan induces holiday drowsiness, it’s more often the result of a soporific meal.

Romesco is a wakeup call. Gutsy and garlicky, this Spanish sauce is sultry with ground almonds. Rich and intense, it’s complex enough to hold its own on the holiday table. It has a rosy terracotta hue, but it’s more than just pretty on a plate.

As a dip or dab, romesco coaxes out vegetables’ natural luster. It adds spark to brussels sprouts and crudités. It pairs with fresh green beans, snowy steamed cauliflower and roasted vegetables from seasonal acorn squash to sweet bell peppers. It wakes up Thanksgiving leftovers, too.

Another plus — romesco can be made up to a week in advance. In fact, the flavors deepen and mellow over time. A platter of veggies and a bowl of romesco can be a lifesaver throughout the holiday season. Chances are, there’ll be plenty of wine and plenty of dessert, but amid the excess, simple seasonal produce is something to be thankful for.

Ellen Kanner writes about vegetarian concerns. She blogs at

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