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.