I enjoyed my very first romesco sauce over grilled asparagus at the Portland, Oregon restaurant Beaker and Flask (photo above from the actual dinner). The smoky sweetness of roasted pepper, balanced by red wine vinegar and complex Oregon hazelnuts lured me into a food dream state. Everything around me stopped. The din of conversation became a muffled blur.
Or maybe it was just the sangria.
The poached eggs make this enough for a light lunch or hearty appetizer. For my vegan friends, toast two additional tablespoons of hazelnuts, roughly chop and garnish the dish with them.
1 red bell pepper, halved and cored
6 fresh, ripe tomatoes, halved
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons hazelnuts
1/8 teaspoon red chili flake
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon corn tortilla, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Freshly ground smoked black peppercorns
1 pound seasonal vegetables
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 very fresh eggs
Preheat your broiler. Place the tomatoes and pepper cut-side down on a broiler pan and brush with olive oil. Broil for 5-10 minutes or until the tops are charred. Remove the pepper to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the hazelnuts for a few minutes until lightly fragrant. Place in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground.
Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet and cook the shallots, garlic, red chili flake and corn tortilla pieces until fragrant. Scrape this mixture into a food processor with the nuts.
When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, slip each out of its skin. Remove the blackened skin of the pepper as well, roughly chop it and add it and the tomatoes to the food processor.
Season the mixture with smoked paprika, red wine vinegar, a pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper, smoked if you can get it. Pulse until the mixture is combined. Give it a quick taste and adjust the seasonings. You can cover and refrigerate at this point and reheat when ready to serve.
Trim and season the vegetables with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette. Using a backyard grill or hot grill pan brushed with oil, cook the vegetables until fork tender.
Poach the eggs in about 3 inches of lightly-simmering water with one tablespoon of vinegar added to help keep the whites intact. If you're new to poaching eggs, it may take a bit of practice. See this how to poach an egg recipe from Smitten Kitchen for more instruction.
When you’re ready to serve, divide the vegetables between four plates. Top with romesco and one poached egg, or toasted hazelnuts. Serve immediately.