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Romesco, oh, Romesco

June 2, 2008 |  4:37 pm

Romescosaucefood_2 I spent much of last week looking dreamily at Amy Scattergood’s recipe on romesco sauce, and wondering when I’d have an opportunity to whip some up for myself.

Turns out someone did the work for me.

I was invited to a pizza party Saturday night when I spied a platter that looked like it had walked off the cover of last week’s Food section: Grilled shrimp and lightly toasted slices of baguette brushed with olive oil surrounding a big bowl of romesco sauce. Apparently, my friend Karen –- she’s the queen of the appetizers in our circle -– had been looking longingly at that recipe, too. The crowd pounced. It was everything it was billed to be -– rich, nutty, garlicky and with just enough of a bite. Even friends who don’t normally pay attention to such things were puzzling over the ingredients in between bites, asking: What’s in this?

Soon, the baguette slices and shrimp were gone, so we resorted to using tortilla chips to dig in. I even used the last remains to slather on the hand-tossed pizzas as they arrived hot off the grill. It doesn’t really matter, though, what you serve with this dip. It’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

I wondered whether this was dip that could be made in advance and frozen, so I could keep some on hand all summer. I put that question to Amy. She joked that nut-based sauces rarely last long enough to make it to the freezer, and offered these guidelines (which include some suggestions from Times recipe tester Noelle Carter):

"It does keep very well in the refrigerator; I’ve had some in there for 2 weeks, with no ill effects. So we’d suggest making your big batch and refrigerating it instead of freezing (I think the nuts would degrade slightly and you’d get water separation in the freezer.) Be sure to bring it back to room temperature before serving it. I’ve heated mine slightly in the microwave even, as it’s really better if it’s not cold."

Amy also added a p.s. -- that romesco makes a great pizza sauce, particularly when topped with fresh mozzarella, grilled onions or leeks.

-- Rene Lynch

Photo by Bob Chamberlin/Los Angeles Times