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Romano Beans with Romesco Sauce

Gregg Prawdzik

This is a recipe that can be served hot one day as a side dish or first course, and cold the next day for an accompaniment to an antipasti platter.
Serves 4

2 lb Romano beans
½ cup canola or vegetable oil
1 lb romanita or cherry tomatoes
1 lb red bell pepper (or you can buy pimento in a can)
1 tables chili powder (or use dried chilies, 1 whole ancho and 1 whole pasilla)
1 cup stale white bread, shredded by hand into tiny croutons (1/2 inch pieces)
½ half-cup whole almonds
1 tbsp smoked paprika
4 clove garlic
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
juice of one lemon
¼ cup chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste

MISE EN PLACE: Heat sauté pan with oil. You will use the same pan to prepare all of the following. (NOTE: you may need to add more oil following each frying session for proper charring, which is important for flavor.) Heat oven to 350F for the bread crumbs.

Slice bell peppers into quarters and remove the seeds. Place skin side down until the skin is charred. Once cooled, peel off charred skin and set aside.
Next, if you are using whole chilies, add the whole chilies to the pan any fry for 10 seconds on each side and allow cooling and draining on paper towels.

Add almonds to the same pan and sauté until brown. Remove and allow to cool on dry towels.
Add tomatoes and smoked paprika to the same pan until tomato is charred on all sides and remove.
Add garlic to the same pan and fry until browned and remove.
Deglaze pan with the vinegar and lemon juice and pour into a small bowl.
Trim the ends of the Romano beans.
Season bread crumbs with salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil until the crumbs are evenly coated. Bake in 350F oven until browned.

COOKING: Heat medium sauce pan with olive oil and add Romano beans. Cover and allow to sauté for 5 minutes. Add chicken or veggie stock, cover and steam for 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat but keep warm covered.

Meanwhile, for the Romesco Sauce: traditionally this is hand made using a mortar and pestle until thick and uniform. But you can control how smooth or thick and chunky by using either a blender or food processor depending upon your desire. Therefore, mix all remaining ingredients with your instrument of choice. Reheat in a sauce pan stirring frequently to prevent burning until sauce is hot. Season with salt and pepper.

Plate beans. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and Romesco sauce. Top with toasted breadcrumbs. If you prefer a thick Romesco, plate the sauce first, then beans and olive oil. Garnish with bread crumbs for an elegant presentation.