Now that I study at a pretty international university, I’m constantly surrounded by all these interesting foreign types, which is great! It’s mostly Europeans on my course, although we get the odd Asian student as well.
Although Dutch is a pretty difficult language, and not a very useful one to boot, some of the new arrivals here are doing their best to learn what they can. One of them (a Dane, unsurprisingly) is getting really good at it. Sometimes when we run into each other on a coffee break in the library, we’ll chat in Dutch for practice. For practice in written language, he sometimes translates recipes from Danish to Dutch for me.
A while ago I told him that I had a kilo of peppers that I needed to eat soon (I’d exaggerated at that market again), and that I was planning to grill them to extend their lifespan a bit. He told me that he had a nice recipe for a sauce made of grilled peppers, and he sent a translated version over that same night. The recipe was for romesco sauce, which turns out to be a Catalan sauce made of peppers and a whole bunch of other stuff. I didn’t have all the ingredients on the list, but gave it a go anyway. It was good!
The original romesco is made with ñora peppers, and often served with fish and other seafood. I didn’t have ñora peppers or seafood, but that’s OK because it was still delicious and it worked really well as a little snack on some flatbread. Next time you get stuck with a kilo of peppers from the market that are about to go off, try this.
For a big tupperware or a couple of sizeable jam jars, use:
- 4 red peppers
- 1 green pepper
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 100 gr mixed almonds and hazelnuts
- one smallish red chili, seeds removed
- a slice of totally stale bread (or if you don’t have any, like me, two slices of crispbread – I’m serious)
- a tsp of smoked paprika
- a tbsp of tomato purée
- a dash of vinegar
- salt to taste (but probably at least a tsp, don’t be afraid, go on)
- pepper to taste
- enough olive oil
First of all, grill your peppers and your garlic. The peppers go in a scorching hot oven for as long as necessary – they need to go all black on the outside, after which you can let them cool down a little bit for a couple of minutes, then put them in a plastic bag to cool down further. This will allow you to peel them easily afterwards. The garlic can stay in its skin. Wrap them up loosely in a bit of tin foil and stick them in the oven with the peppers.
Whilst you wait for your peppers to roast, gently toast your hazelnuts and almonds in a frying pan without oil.
When your peppers are cooled down enough to peel, take them out of the bag, remove the skins and the seeds, then stick them in a bowl. Add the nuts, the garlic (peeled, of course), the tomato purée, the vinegar, and the bread (torn to pieces) or crispbread (crumbled to pieces). Add some salt and pepper (careful at first, add more later if you need to), the paprika, and the chili, (in short, all of the other ingredients on the list) then start puréeing the whole thing with a hand blender.
As you purée it all up, start adding oil – you can add more until the sauce reaches a consistency that you like, but beware that it’ll go a bit thicker if you let it stand for a bit. (You totally should let it stand for a bit, because the flavours will have time to soak each other up and become even better.) Taste for salt, pepper and paprika, and if you like it, put it in a tupperware or in some glass jars and leave it to cool down completely. Then just put it in the fridge, where you can keep it for up to a week or so. You can serve it with fish or white meat, but I recommend having it on some bread or in some flatbread topped with some spinach and feta, which is seriously delicious.