Ahhh. Romesco. How can it be that you haven’t sampled this zesty Spanish sauce before? Made with peppers, tomatoes, garlic, almonds and smoked paprika, it’s kind of like Spanish pesto and is just as versatile and easy to make. Here, we’re topping a juicy, grilled skirt steak with the rusty sauce … and the yellow squash on the side doesn’t mind a dollop as well. You can make the sauce days ahead to top grilled fish, chicken and vegetables or use it as a dip with fresh cut carrots, fennel and grape tomatoes. I said it was versatile, didn’t I?
It’s that easy: Skirt steak is big on flavor, but in order to be tender it shouldn’t be cooked beyond medium rare. For added tenderness, it’s also important to cut it across or against the grain. Look to see the direction of the meat fibers. They will look like lines. Just slice the steak across or in the opposite direction for the most tender bites.
Smoked paprika is also called pimentón. It has a surprising smoky, spicy quality and can be used instead of sweet paprika for a dash of something different.
Start to finish: 45 minutes
Hands on time: 45 minutes
Serves 4 to 6
First, make the romesco…
Makes about 2 cups.
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus 1/2 cup
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 2 slices bread, torn into small pieces
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tomato, seeded and diced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or sweet paprika
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium heat and add the 1/4 cup olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the almonds and bread and cook until golden, stirring, about 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate.
- Add onion, bell pepper, tomato and garlic to the hot pan. Cook, stirring until the vegetables have softened, about 3 minutes.
- Add the smoked paprika, salt and pepper and continue to cook until the mixture has dried a bit, about 3 more minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Add the almonds and bread to the bowl of a food processor and process until they are finely ground.
- Add the sautéed vegetables to the bowl and process. With the motor running, add the remaining 1/2 cup oil and vinegar in a steady stream. The mixture should thicken and emulsify to form a rust-colored, thick sauce.
- Taste the sauce for seasoning and adjust with more paprika, salt and pepper.
Make-ahead: The sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance, kept covered and refrigerated.
Now for the main course…
- 2-lb skirt steak
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 yellow squash, sliced
- 1 small red onion, sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Remove the steak from the refrigerator and pat it dry with a paper towel. Salt and pepper the steak and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before grilling.
- Heat a grill to high heat and set a grill basket over the fire to preheat.
- Toss the squash and onion with the oil and salt and pepper to taste. Add the vegetables to the hot grill basket, close the lid and cook the vegetables for 10 minutes, stirring every now and then so that they cook evenly.
- Add the steak to the grill and cook, lid closed for 4 minutes. Turn the steak over and cook the other side for another 4 minutes. Continue to stir the vegetables as they need it.
- Remove the steak to a plate and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing thinly across the grain. Serve with the vegetables and a dollop of romesco sauce.
Extra Hungry Kids? Instead of the romesco, give the kids their favorite barbecue sauce with some French fries on the side.
Adult Taste Buds: Finely chop 2 cloves of garlic and blend with 1/3 cup mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard to make an aioli or garlic mayonnaise and serve your grilled steak with two sauces (the aioli is pretty fabulous dipped with a few of the kid’s French fries as well).
In the Glass: Oh, and don’t forget the wine. Preferably a zesty Spanish red blend from Zagalin.