This photo shows Grilled Asparagus with Romesco Sauce. Romesco sauce is a red pepper, almond and tomato sauce that hails from the Catalonia part Spain where it was originally served with seafood and charred onions. Photo by: Elizabeth Karmel via AP
June 20, 2018 10:51:15 AM
It's time to revisit grilled vegetables. I was recently tagged in a post where the author said that she was taught to grill vegetables dry and then season them when they come off the grill.
I don't know what she was grilling and she seemed very happy with that method but it made me think about all the people who were now going to try to grill their summer vegetables without oiling them first. And anyone who has read one of my books, articles or grilled with me knows, my mantra is "oil the food, not the grates."
It makes sense that you would oil the vegetables to keep all the juices inside and prevent them from drying out. After all, dried fruit and vegetables are made by slowly dehydrating (the juices out of) them. A little bit of oil creates a barrier that prevents the natural juices from evaporating as the vegetables cook and the oil promotes caramelization, a.k.a. those great grill marks. This is important because grill marks equal flavor, and a juicy vegetable is much tastier than a dried-out one.
Grilled vegetables are good all on their own, but they are even better with a great Romesco sauce to drizzle over them or dip them into. Romesco sauce is a red pepper, almond and tomato sauce that hails from the Catalonia part Spain where it was originally served with seafood and charred onions. Romesco is gaining popularity in the states and I have seen it served with just about everything. It is my favorite summer condiment and I use it to dress up grilled shrimp, fish, poultry, meat and all manner of vegetables.
My version calls for fireroasted tomatoes and one large roasted red pepper, so it is more tomatoe-y than pepper-y which is my preference. If you prefer the taste of red peppers to tomatoes, switch the ratios and use half the amount of tomato that I call for and double the red peppers. I don't use the bread which is in the classic recipe to thicken the sauce because I don't want to muddle the pure vegetable and roasted garlic flavor, and I like a looser texture.
Grilled asparagus and Romesco is my favorite combination. And, this time of year, asparagus abounds. So, the recipe that I am featuring is for Grilled Asparagus with Fire-Roasted Romesco Sauce but you can use the same basic principle for any quick-cooking vegetable. Just remember to place the vegetables horizontally across the cooking grates so you get maximum grill marks and they won't fall through the grates. If you place them parallel to the grates, it will be easy for them to slip through and fall through the grates, and that would be a pity.
Grilled asparagus is my favorite, but don't stop there. Charred whole scallions, zucchini, yellow squash, roasted cauliflower, potatoes and mushrooms are all better for a bit of Romesco sauce. It's all good. Throw in some grilled bread and it's great.
GRILLED ASPARAGUS WITH FIRE-ROASTED ROMESCO SAUCE
Start to finish: 1 hour
Grilling method: Direct/medium heat
1 pound fresh asparagus (look for large stalks with firm deep green or purplish tips and moist ends)
Kosher salt, about 1 teaspoon
Romesco sauce (recipe below)
FIRE-ROASTED ROMESCO SAUCE
Makes about 4 cups
Grilling Method: Indirect/medium high heat
2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes or 2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes
1 roasted red pepper (see recipe below)
1 head garlic, roasted (see recipe below)
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar, more if needed
1/2 cup blanched or Marcona almonds
1 tablespoon freshly ground ancho chili
1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Spanish
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt or sea salt; more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Nutrition information per serving: 268 calories; 188 calories from fat; 21 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 969 mg sodium; 17 g carbohydrate; 7 g fiber; 8 g sugar; 7 g protein.