Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Romesco Caesar with Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppers

The concept of the romesco caesar salad was stolen from Fino. I had such a salad there a couple of years ago, but it appears they no longer serve it. Romaine lettuce with a romesco-like dressing was topped with lovely, whole anchovy fillets.

This salad came back to mind when I found some great looking marinated anchovies at the deli counter at Central Market. Add to that the fact that I had been reading about romesco sauces, and tinkering with a salad recreation came next. I started by assembling a simple romesco as follows:

1 large tomato
1/2 red onion
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 T slivered almonds
Salt and pepper to taste

-pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
-place tomato, onion, and garlic on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast in oven for 15 minutes; remove garlic and return sheet to oven for an additional 15-20 minutes or until onion and tomato are very tender
-meanwhile, place anchos in a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water over to cover; allow to steep for 15 minutes or until anchos are rehydrated and soft
-cut tomato in half and remove core; peel garlic; place tomato, onion, garlic cloves, anchos, almonds, and salt and pepper in bowl of a food processor and puree until somewhat smooth; a little texture is good here
This makes more romesco than necessary to dress a salad made with one head of romaine. So, you could either make it all into salad dressing and save half for another day, or reserve half of the romesco for another use which is what I did. So, to continue:

1/2 quantity simple romesco from food processor
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
1 head romaine lettuce, washed, chopped, and spun dry
parmigiana reggiano
whole, boned, marinated anchovy fillets

-whisk together romesco, lemon juice, and olive oil in a medium bowl, taste and adjust seasoning if needed
-in a large bowl, toss romaine with dressing starting with 3/4 of the dressing and adding more as needed to achieve desired dressedness
-serve dressed romaine on large plates; using a vegetable peeler, cut long strips of parmigiana to top salad; place the anchovy fillets like shimmering jewels on top of this colorful salad; serve with crostini or crouton

I served the salad with a few goat cheese stuffed peppers on the side. I used fresh caribe and hatch peppers. Hatch chile season started last weekend, and I plan to use a lot more of those in the next few weeks. For this meal, I just grabbed a few of the smallest ones in the bin. I also stuffed a few marinated peppadew peppers to add a little flavor and color variety. I used four ounces of goat cheese and one minced clove of garlic and stirred those together with salt and pepper.
The cheese was stuffed into eight hulled peppers. The peppers were splashed with a small bit of red wine vinegar and olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt and pepper, and they baked in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes.
Romesco caesar, rustic wheat crostini, and goat cheese stuffed peppers were fantastic together. I’ve mentioned before that Kurt rarely comments on a meal without being questioned or prompted in some way. Well, this was one of those rare occasions on which he expressed his delight all of his own volition. He proclaimed the salad good eatin’, was very pleased with the shiny anchovy fillets, and quite liked the stuffed peppers. I too was very happy with the meal. The peppers were a burst of great flavor, and each type had its own unique appeal. The yellow caribes were especially good. The salad was as delicious as I remember it from Fino. Maybe next time I’ll use manchego; there’s always an excuse for more tinkering.


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