Sunday, May 20, 2012

Shrimp Skewers with Romesco Sauce

Using nuts in place of cream is a great trick for thickening sauces - and that isn't just a vegan thing.  Traditional sauces like Middle Eastern muhammara and Greek skordalia have relied on nuts as thickener for ages.  Tonight, I'm making the Catalan sauce romesco - a puree of almonds and red bell pepper.  Try it with the vegan shrimp from Sophie's Kitchen for a great grilled dinner.

For the romesco sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons toasted slivered almonds*
  • 2 tablespoons toasted and chopped hazelnuts*
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (1-ounce) toasted slice French bread baguette*
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 1 cup chopped plum tomato
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (7-ounce) drained bottle roasted red bell peppers
  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
For the shrimp:
  • 30 Sophie's Kitchen shrimp, thawed
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 6 lemon wedges
1. To prepare the sauce, combine the almonds, hazelnuts, 1/4 teaspoon salt, French bread, and crushed garlic in a food processor, and process until finely ground.  Add the plum tomato, vinegar, olive oil, paprika, crushed red pepper, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and roasted bell peppers; process until smooth.

2. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and stir in the parsley; set aside.

3. To prepare the shrimp, toss together the shrimp with the minced garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.  Thread the shrimp evenly onto 6 skewers.

4. Grill on an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan coated with cooking spray for 3 minutes on each side.  Serve with the sauce and the lemon wedges.

Note: you could also broil the shrimp on a broiler pan for the same amount of time on each side.

To round out a delicious late-spring evening, I recommend a salad and couscous on the side.  Toss cooked couscous with chopped green onions, and then throw together this simple salad with vegan goat cheese and Dijon dressing: in a bowl, combine 9 cups torn red leaf lettuce, 1/4 cup chopped red onion, and 1/4 cup prepared vegan goat cheese.  In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, and 2 teaspoons olive oil; toss the salad with the dressing.

If you're looking for a good wine to pour with this dish, try Spanish Albarino - it's a nice citrusy white with a hint of almonds that will match the nuttiness and sweetness of the romesco sauce.

*Toast the nuts ahead of time in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, shaking the pan frequently to prevent burning.  Likewise, you can toast the bread slice under the broiler or in a skillet for about 2 minutes on each side. 

Nutrition Info:
6 servings (1 shrimp skewer, 1/4 cup romesco sauce, 1 lemon wedge), Calories 263 

Tasting Notes:
These super simple ingredients come together in the best way - the toasty nuts combined with hints of garlic, fresh breadcrumbs, super-fresh plum tomato, and bell pepper.  The sauce was delicious slathered over the shrimp, and a spritz of the lemon wedge added a refreshing note  If you don't have vegan shrimp at home, I think this sauce would be equally delicious over grilled tofu or Gardein chicken.  


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