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The Moors planted Spain’s almond groves with stock from the Jordan valley, the fertile land of Granada being ideal for the cultivation of their favourite nut tree.  Almonds are used extensively in Spanish cooking, both whole and ground in sweets and to thicken sauces. To simply roast almonds in a little olive oil and salt is delicious or spice them up!

Romesco Sauce

Ingredients

  • 100g whole blanched almonds
  • 1 roasted red pepper, peeled (or use roasted pepper in a jar) 
  • one large dried chilli (ex. ancho or poblano) or ½ tsp flaked dried chilli 
  • 3 cloves garlic 
  • 6tbsp olive oil
  • 50g stale white bread, cubed 
  • 1-1 ½ tbsp sherry vinegar 
  • ½ tsp saffron strands (soaked in water) 
  • ½ tsp sweet smoked paprika salt and pepper   

Method

  1. Roast the almonds in the oven until golden brown. 
  2. If you are using a large dried chilli dry fry it in a pan until browned and then soak in a little hot water for up to half an hour. 
  3. Fry the garlic cloves in the olive oil, remove them and fry bread until golden. 
  4. Reserve the oil. 
  5. Pound the nuts, chilli, bread, garlic and pepper in a pestle and mortar until you achieve a coarse paste. 
  6. Bit by bit, add the vinegar, saffron strands and water, olive oil and paprika. 
  7. Season to taste. 

Tips 

  • This is traditionally made with dried Nora peppers which are sweet and not too spicy. Improvise with large Mexican chillies but taste them first and don’t use a lot if they are very hot!

Celeriac fritters with Romesco sauce

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