Friday, February 18, 2011

Plan A

I read somewhere that when it comes to things created by your own hand, you should never apologize. Mostly because people will think you’re fishing for compliments. And so I will not apologize for the rather unfortunate color of this Romesco. Basically, the orange peppers were $1 each, and the red ones (which I would normally use) were twice that. I didn’t really think much about it at the time until I ladled some of the sauce over the chicken.

I can assure you that it didn’t affect the taste in the slightest.

Romesco is one of my go-to sauces. It’s nutty, tangy and has that zing of vinegar. For this recipe, I used up the last of the Spanish sherry vinegar I received from some friends after they were lucky enough to go there on a trip. It’s hugely versatile, and I’ve used it as a dip, a spread for crostinis, and on any number of meats (it’s really nice with shrimp).

The quinoa is still a new thing for me. I did read up some more on the preparation of it, and I will have to say that I nailed it this time. My first attempt, although tasty, was a bit heavy because I went by the amount of liquid called for in the recipe, and then tried to stir the additional ingredients into it with a spoon and managed to just turn it into a clump. A tasty clump, but a clump no less.

This rendition was feather-light. If I wasn’t an absolute fan of the stuff before, I surely am now.

I also wanted to use some of the preserved lemon I had on hand. If you don’t have this, just zest one lemon and squeeze some of the juice into the quinoa. I think the flavor will be a bit brighter. Because I used the preserved lemon, it had more of an exotic, deeper flavor. Also, if you’re looking for something a bit less tart, use Kalamatas rather than green olives as I did.

Quinoa with Preserved Lemon and Green Olives
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbs olive oil
2 cups quinoa, rinsed well and drained
1 1/2 cups water
2 Tbs preserved lemon, rinsed and finely chopped
1/4 cup green olives, chopped
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a saucepan.  Add garlic cloves and sauté briefly.  Add quinoa and water and bring to a boil.  When water begins to boil, reduce heat to medium low and cover.  Cook for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and vent slightly.  Allow to sit another 5 minutes.  Using a fork, fluff the quinoa until light and fluffy.  Add the preserved lemon and olives and carefully mix together.  Can be served immediately or at room temperature.
Romesco Sauce
1/2 cup whole natural almonds (about 3 ounces), toasted
1 cup drained roasted red peppers from jar (or roast your own)
2 tsp sherry vinegar
1 large garlic clove, peeled and chopped
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

Add olive oil, vinegar, garlic and almonds to blender.  Top with roasted peppers.  Blend until of desired consistency.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to small bowl. (Dip can be made 1 day ahead. Cover  and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

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