I love it when something that when made authentically in flavour and technique, also happens to be really good for you. It doesn’t happen all the time (hi there delicious, still warm, chocolate donut from Granville Island) but it does happen enough to help you not feel deprived when you are looking for healthy, flavourful recipes. It also means that when you make it, you don’t have to change too much, potentially altering the flavour or general feel of the classic dish.
Romesco sauce is one of those recipes. If you were to make it the exact way it was written in a Spanish cookbook, it would be free of dairy, gluten and refined carbs, while full of veggies, fiber, protein and healthy fats. However, because we are talking about consciously fighting/preventing cancer, I have still changed a few subtle things.
The nuts – soak them don’t toast them. If it is a special occasion (like when you use your special occasion, ghetto but effective deodorant. Anybody?), toast some so that you get that toasty flavour. For every other day, you want those fats to be fresh and feisty and the enzymes to be released and ready to work.
Also the olive oil. I looooooove extra virgin olive oil to the point that when I have a really good bottle, I eyes-closed sip it on its own. I understand why it is revered and used in volume in so many Mediterranean dishes, and I take over-sized suitcases to Europe to ensure I have new olive oil (and shoe) room on the way home.
Unrefined, first/cold pressed oil, is good for you. However, the good for you flies out the window once it has been exposed to too much heat, light or air and it can actually have an opposite effect. Like a super fun but disappointingly high maintenance friend, it doesn’t mean you can’t still hang out. Buy smaller bottles of it (it sits around for less time), made of dark glass or opaque material (sun block), keep it somewhere cool (not up high or right beside your stove), keep the lid on tight, and only add it to cold dishes or finish warmer dishes with it at the very end. That’s what we’ll be doing here.
And then there is the cauliflower. As it turns out, cauliflower is a great vessel for thick and rich sauces, much in the same way that pasta and potatoes are, minus the blood sugar spike. I have cut it into wedges, held together by the core, and simply roast it with some spices. If you are hoping to make this a main dish, toss some cooked chickpeas in with the cauliflower and spices and roast it all together – this will add extra oomph and protein.
Spoon the warm romesco sauce over the roasted cauliflower and top with a simple, lemony parsley salad –this balances things out. Option #2 – Spoon the sauce onto the cauliflower in a casserole dish and bake the whole thing together for another 15-20 minutes. It will be softer and more stew-y in a way that will contrast very well with the parsley salad.
- 2 Red Peppers, whole
- 2 Tomatoes, halved
- 1 Ancho Chili, soaked in warm water to soften, and then peeled
- ½ Red Onion, sliced thin
- ½ Leek, sliced thin
- 4 Garlic Cloves, whole, in peel
- ¼ c Almonds, soaked for 12+ hours, drained and rinsed
- ¼ c Walnuts, soaked for 12+ hours, drained and rinsed
- 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- Sea(weed) salt to taste
- 1 head of Cauliflower, cut into wedges
- 2 Garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ tsp Dried Turmeric (1/2 tsp if using fresh)
- Several grinds of Black Pepper (to enhance turmeric absorption)
- 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
- 1½ c Italian Parsley, roughly chopped
- 2 Tbsp Hemp Hearts
- 2 tsp Lemon Juice
- 2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Preheat oven to 325*
- Place the onions, leeks and garlic, topped with tomatoes and peppers in a roasting dish.
- Roast for 35-45 minutes
- Transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover with a plate while still hot.
- Peel the peppers once they have cooled enough to touch. Discard peel, core, seeds and stem.
- Transfer the roasted veggies and peeled peppers to a food processor, add the soaked and peeled ancho chili, nuts, lemon juice and some seaweed salt. Blend until smooth-ish (it will still have texture).
- Melt the coconut oil with the spices and toss with the cauliflower (and possibly cooked chick peas).
- Spread out on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Roast for 15-20 minutes, until softened but still maintains texture.
- Toss all ingredients together right before topping off the cauli and romesco.