Photo Credit: The Washington PostRomesco is a flavorful sauce of roasted red peppers, almonds, tomatoes and garlic that hails from the coast of Spain. It has a savory richness without being heavy, and it's an ideal and healthful accompaniment for just about anything you might be grilling, including seafood, vegetables, poultry and meats.
Most romesco recipes I have seen require turning on the oven for roasting the peppers, and in some cases the tomatoes and garlic. But I am loath to do that in the summer, so I thought a tasty, and certainly cooler, way to go would be to cook those ingredients on the grill instead. As a result, this recipe has an added layer of fire-kissed flavor that adds to its appeal.
Chunks of red bell pepper and sliced onion are brushed with oil and go straight onto the grill, where they soften and char. The peppers are then sweated in a bag, and their skins are removed. The tomatoes and garlic are drizzled with oil, then wrapped in an aluminum foil pouch that's placed on the grill. After about 12 minutes, they are transformed: the garlic softens, with a more deeply mellow flavor, and the tomatoes collapse, their juices released. All that grilled goodness is blended until smooth with toasted almonds, Spanish smoked paprika, vinegar, salt, pepper and olive oil.
The accompanying recipe makes twice as much sauce as you'll need. It will keep in the refrigerator for about five days. Warmed or at room temperature, it can not only accompany whatever you are grilling but also can be used on sandwiches or as a dip for crudités; tossed with pasta; or spread on toasts with some cheese - Manchego, for example.
To serve, spoon the sauce onto a plate, top with grilled zucchini and chicken breast, and garnish with a fresh, green sprinkle of parsley. This is one very tasty example of how this versatile sauce can transform a simple meal.
Grilled Chicken and Zucchini With Romesco Sauce:
MAKE AHEAD: You'll have about a cup of leftover romesco sauce, which can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
For the sauce
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded and cut into 8 wedges each
3 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 4 or 5 large pieces
1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the chicken and zucchini:
2 medium zucchini (8 ounces each), trimmed and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 5 ounces each), pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish
For the sauce: Toast the almonds in a small, dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan frequently to avoid scorching, until lightly browned and fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Let cool.
Preheat a grill or large grill pan over medium-high heat. Place the tomatoes and garlic cloves on a large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil, then fold the foil to form a packet, sealing it tightly. Brush the bell pepper and the onion rounds with oil on both sides, using 1 tablespoon of the oil total.
Place the onions, foil packet and red bell peppers on the grill or in the grill pan; cook until the onions are softened and grill marks have formed, about 4 minutes per side; the tomatoes and garlic are steaming and softened, about 12 minutes; and the peppers are well charred and tender, about 8 minutes per side. Once the onions are done, transfer them to a plate. Once the tomatoes and garlic are done, let cool for 10 minutes before opening the packet. Once the peppers are done, transfer them to a paper or plastic bag, seal and steam for 10 minutes, then remove the charred peels with your fingers and/or a paring knife, as needed.
Transfer the tomatoes and garlic, along with their accumulated juices, to a bowl. Peel and discard the skins. Transfer the tomato flesh and its juices and the garlic to a blender along with the bell pepper, onion, paprika, vinegar, the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the toasted almonds, salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. The yield is 2 cups; you'll need 1 cup for this recipe. Refrigerate the rest in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
For the chicken and zucchini: When ready to serve, preheat a grill or grill pan. Brush the zucchini and then the chicken with the oil, then sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Grill the zucchini until it is tender and grill marks form, 3 to 4 minutes per side; grill the chicken until it is cooked through and grill marks form, about 5 minutes per side.
To serve, spread 1/4 cup of the sauce on the center of each plate. Place a few slices of zucchini on top of the sauce, then top each plate with a piece of chicken and sprinkle with parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature