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I like to think of romesco sauce as Spain’s answer to pesto. The tomato and roasted bell peppers lend sweetness, almonds give it a nutty richness, bread provides texture, and smoked paprika and cumin round it all out with a subtle smokiness. This version was adapted from this recipe, featured in Bon Appetit. This vegan sauce can be served alongside non-meat mains, like tempeh, seared tofu, or grilled cauliflower steaks; drizzled over charred spring or green onions for a vibrant side dish; or combined with pasta cooking water for a luxurious pasta sauce. I decided to entertain the carnivore inside of me and serve it with breaded chicken cutlets.

1 medium tomato, rough chop (I used a grilled, peeled tomato leftover from a recent “grill night”)
1 1/2 roasted red bell peppers, rough chop
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs, or torn stale bread
2/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
Pinch cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1. Combine all ingredients, except for olive oil, in a food processor and whirl until mostly smooth.
2. Drizzle in the olive oil while the food processor is running. Add water to thin, if desired.

photo (1)

Notes: absolutely lovely, but I admit that I didn’t do a good job of recording exact ratios. The above was recorded from memory, and I will need to retest to recreate results.

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While traditionally pesto is made with basil, this recipe switches it up with vibrant, peppery arugula that goes perfectly over whole wheat pasta. I made arugula pesto in the past, but neglected to understand the value of recording the recipe. Here is my official first attempt at a delicious and deceptively healthy pesto.

5 cups packed arugula
3/4 cup pecorino, broken up into chunks
3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 clove garlic
4 T extra-virgin olive oil
Juice 1 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and whirl until smooth (alternately, if you like pesto with a bit more texture, pulse until desired consistency is reached).

photo 2 (2)

Use as a dip for vegetables or crusty baguette, sauce for pasta (makes enough for 1 pound), garnish for soups, condiment for sandwiches, etc. (I served it with whole wheat pasta, garnished with grated pecorino and freshly ground black pepper.)