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Almond Romesco Sauce
    Makes 2 cups, approximately
    This is based on a wonderful, richer Spanish sauce called Romesco sauce, which is made with both almonds and hazelnuts, and more olive oil. Here grilled or broiled vegetables stand in for some of the nuts and oil, but the sauce still captures the texture and spice.
1 large red pepper or 2 medium peppers (about 1/2 pound)
3 medium tomatoes or 4 roma tomatoes (about 3/4 pound)
2 ounces baguette or country style bread, lightly toasted
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
1/3 cup toasted almonds, or use half almonds, half toasted, skinned hazelnuts
1 to 2 teaspoons pure ground chile powder or red pepper flakes, to taste (pepper flakes are hotter)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
salt to taste (1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons)
freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1. Preheat the broiler and cover a baking sheet with foil. Grill the pepper under the broiler, placing it on the baking sheet at the highest setting, and turning it every 3 minutes or so, until uniformly charred. Remove from the baking sheet and place in a plastic bag, twist the bag shut and allow to cool. When the pepper is cool enough to handle, remove the charred skin (you can do this under running water), cut the pepper in half lengthwise and remove the core, seeds and membranes.

2. While waiting for the pepper to cool, place the tomatoes on the baking sheet and place under the broiler at the highest setting. Broil for 2-4 minutes, until charred on one side. Turn over and broil on the other side for 2 to 4 minutes, until charred. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl and allow to cool. Peel and core.

3. Turn on a food processor fitted with the steel blade and drop in the garlic cloves. When the garlic is chopped and adheres to the sides of the bowl, stop the machine and scrape down the sides. Add the toasted nuts, bread, and chile powder or flakes to the bowl and process to a paste. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the pepper, tomatoes, parsley, paprika, salt, and pepper. Process until smooth, and with the machine running, add the vinegar and olive oil in a slow stream. Process until well amalgamated, then scrape into a bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding salt or chile as desired. If possible, allow the sauce to stand for an hour at room temperature before using.

Advanced preparation: This will keep for several days in the refrigerator; the garlic will become more pungent.

Note: The peppers and tomatoes can also be cooked on a charcoal or gas grill.

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