As soon as we dropped our bags at the hostel in Barcelona last year, I was overwhelmed and over-excited about the whole wide world of tapas at my disposal. It was my first time visiting the city and in preparation I read obsessively about great markets, tapas bars and delicacies. I also paid particularly close attention to an Anthony Bourdain No Reservations episode all about Spain.
One thing Tony (yeah, I call him Tony) got to experience on his trip was some Spanish country barbecuing that involved sloppily drinking red wine from porrons (which I have been lucky enough to do at a bar in New York) and eating charred over-sized spring onions dipped in Romesco sauce. Way more than El Bulli, this is what I wanted my Spanish eating experience to be like.
When I saw these grilled-to-order greens on a menu I jumped at the chance to order them. Peeling off the blackened outer layer, dipping them generously in the sweet and nutty Romesco sauce, then throwing my head back to take a bite – I felt like I was living large.
In fact, I nearly made myself sick between gorging on those and fried peppers that first night. No biggie. That’s what I was there for.
Romesco sauce is excellent with seafood, chicken, eggs, as a dip for crackers and vegetables and as a spread on sandwiches. My easy version isn’t totally traditional, but the basics are there.
The roasted garlic shrimp below can also be tossed with pasta, chilli, olive oil and lemon, with rice and chopped roasted scallions, or over a lightly dressed mixed green salad. For this dish, I roasted some spring onions with my shrimp to take me back to Barca.
Garlic Roasted Shrimp
– 1 lb./1/2 kilo uncooked deveined shrimp
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1-2 cloves of garlic finely minced
– salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 F/205 C. Toss shrimp with olive oil, minced garlic and salt and pepper.
Spread the seasoned shrimp out on a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes – flipping the shrimp once after about 5 minutes cooking- until the shrimp is pink and cooked through.
Easy Romesco Sauce
3 whole roasted red peppers, drained and roughly chopped
1/3 raw almonds
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
pinch chili flakes
salt & pepper
Heat olive oil in a medium pan over the medium-low heat. once warm, add paprika, chili flakes and almonds. Toast almonds in seasoned oil for about 5 minutes until fragrant. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.
Place roasted red peppers and garlic oil/almond mixture in a food processor and process until finely chopped and nearly smooth in consistency, adding additional olive oil if necessary. I like to keep mine a little chunkier, to get those toothsome bites of almonds.