Asparagus with Romesco Sauce

This romesco sauce recipe comes from Vegetarian Times, and it is better than one I had used previously out of a Williams-Sonoma cookbook. They suggested a blanch-and-grill procedure for the asparagus, to which I said, “On a weeknight? Yeah, right.”

If you have the tomatoes, peppers, and onions prepared in advance, which you could do the evening before or, if you have a husband on spring break, that afternoon – everything else goes together pretty quickly. This dish makes a wonderful light meal all on its own.

The fresh chiles are supposed to be peeled in this recipe – I know that sounds nuts, but it worked better than I thought it would. I cut the stems flush with the top of the pepper, stood them on their heads, and peeled from the tip down using my Oxo peeler. I didn’t get every bit of peel off, but I didn’t sweat it.

Ingredients:

4 plum tomatoes, roasted in oil
2 red bell peppers, roasted in oil
½ onion, roasted in oil
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 c. almonds
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 ancho chiles (I used pasilla because I couldn’t find any ancho.)
2 T. sherry vinegar (I had to pay out the nose for this, but it tastes great.)
1 T. paprika
1 oz. slice toasted bread
salt to taste

2 lbs. asparagus, peeled if thick
1 T. olive oil
¼ c. water
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Roast tomatoes, peppers, and onions in 1 T. olive oil to coat until soft, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, and, when cool enough to handle, peel vegetables and set aside. Move oven rack to top position and set oven to broil.

Heat 2 T. oil in a skillet over medium heat. Brown almonds and garlic and remove from skillet. Place in blender. Fry chilies for 2 minutes. Peel and seed chiles. Add remaining ingredients to blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt to taste.

Place asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet with a rim. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and add the water to the sheet. Place the sheet on the top rack of the oven and broil for 5-7 minutes, depending on thickness. If your asparagus seems too thick to cook via this treatment, pop it in a nonstick pan with the same additions, cover tightly, and steam over medium-high heat until the water is gone.

Serve asparagus with a generous drape of romesco sauce.

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