Summer Spread

Grilled veggies get saucy.

Romesco sauce
By Annemarie Ahearn
Photograph by Benjamin Williamson

Zucchini, eggplant, carrots — plenty of Maine produce is now in season, and there’s something about the charred edges of grilled vegetables that registers a primal satisfaction, reminding that summer is in full swing. Romesco, a tomato-based sauce thickened with fried bread and nuts, makes the perfect condiment, its tartness, acidity, and spice balancing the smokiness from the grill.

Makes plenty for a full grill and then some.

½ cup whole almonds

½ cup whole hazelnuts

dried chilies (12 chilies de árbol, or about half as many for larger varieties, such as guajillo)

2 tablespoons, plus 1 cup, extra-virgin olive oil

1 thick slice sourdough bread

1 cup canned tomatoes

3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

kosher salt

½ cup flat-leaf parsley

1 small lemon, juiced

splash of sherry vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange almonds and hazelnuts on a sheet pan and place in the oven 8–10 minutes. Remove from the oven and move to a bowl to cool. Deseed and devein chilies. Heat a cast-iron frying pan over medium heat and gently toast chilies, pressing skins to the pan with tongs until fragrant. Once toasted, place chilies in a heatproof bowl. Fill a teapot with water and bring to a boil. Cover chilies in water for 15 minutes to rehydrate.

Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into the pan over medium heat. Fry bread on both sides until golden brown. Set bread aside to cool. Add tomatoes to the pan and cook down slightly, about 5 minutes. Tear bread into small pieces.

Strain chilies from water. In a blender, add garlic and a pinch of salt. Blend. Add nuts, chilies, bread, tomatoes, parsley, lemon juice, vinegar, and 1 cup olive oil. Blend to a coarse puree, adding a few tablespoons of tap water if the consistency is too thick. Salt to taste and blend again. Serve in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil to keep moist. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a week.