1kg asparagus, woody bases trimmed (800g)
40ml balsamic vinegar
60ml apple juice
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
10g flaked almonds, toasted
coarse sea salt and black pepper
1 dried ancho chilli (10g), soaked in water for 30 minutes, drained, de-seeded and roughly chopped - I did not have this so substituted about 1tsp of smoked paprika
40g whole almonds, toasted
50g crustless sourdough bread, cut into 3cm cubes
3 ripe, medium plum tomatoes, cut into 1 1/2cm wedges (200g)
1 tbsp Valdespino sherry vinegar (or another good-quality sherry vinegar) -- again I did not have this and substituted ShaoShing rice wine
25ml olive oil
1 medium red chilli, de-seeded and roughly chopped
Put all the Romesco ingredients in a bowl with 1 tsp salt and some pepper. Stir and then leave for4 hours - overnight in the fridge if you have the time (and foresight). I did not, but pressed on after an hour. Use a stick blender to smoosh all the ingredients into a rough paste. Warm it through just before serving.
Blanch the asparagus for 1-2 mins in boiling salted water. It should be al dente. Remove and refresh under cold running water and then leave aside to dry
Put the balsamic, sugar and apple juice in a small pan and boil vigorously until reduced by about half volume and is a syrup like consistency. Cool.
Toss the asparagus in olive oil and 1tsp salt and griddle on a pan or BBQ for a couple of minutes, turning to give a charred effect
Put the romescon on a plate, top with the asparagus scatter the almond flakes and then drizzle over the balsamic reduction. Enjoy
Another Ottolenghi, but this time based on a visit elsewhere - to a restaurant called Iberico in London (which, surprise, specialises in Iberico Pork). I had as a starter a beefstake tomato stuffed with garlic breadcrumbs, redcurrants and tiny capers, sitting in a bath of romesco sauce, topped with beetroot granits. Reader, it was delicious - especially the romesco sauce which to my surprise I had never in my recollection, had before, It was delicious - mouth wateringly savoury and sweet at the same time, with a smell of dried earth and the same colour.
So when I was browsing the copy of Nopi that the Boy bought me for Birthday and came across a recipe for Asparagus with a Romesco sauce I was intrigued. Personally, I think there are few ways to improve Asparagus on its own with salty butter (although I have posted a couple of recipes recently). Howvert his had been addressed by YO in his introduction to the recipe and he found it Good - so I thought hey ho give it a go.
And I am glad I did for 2 reasons. Firstly because it made me realise how ridiculously easy Romseco sauce is to make (and this one turned out well) and secondly because the resulting dish was truly delicious. Incidentally I think the quality of the Romesco is, as with all these things, entirely dependant on the quality of your ingredients. You need lovely ripe, sweet smelling tomatoes and good strong peppery olive oil as a very minimum. It is probably worth avoiding making it if you dont have them cos it would probably disappoint.