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Spain – Xató salad with Romesco sauce

What’s cooking in Spain?

Yoli’s Xatό salad with Romesco sauce

Yolanda is my friend, and I know that she is an excellent cook because I have been lucky to eat some of her dishes already. She is originally from Tarragona, just south of Barcelona, and met her Swiss husband of Spanish descent during his holiday in Spain when she was 15 years old. It was the beginning of back and forth travels between the two countries, until she finally moved to Switzerland when she was 20. They now have three children, and Yolanda wants to transmit culture from her home country to them. Their children learn the Spanish language, and they often eat Spanish dishes at home.

Yolanda makes delicious Paellas and empanadas, and today we will make a salad with Romesco sauce!

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Romesco sauce is a specialty from Yolanda’s hometown Tarragona. It is traditionally eaten with calçots, a sort of spring onion that looks a bit like leek, but which is very difficult to find in Switzerland. In some places, like in London, calçots have become available and popular during spring, but here, it cannot yet be bought. Romesco sauce can also be used for a dish with fish in the oven, or with the salad we will make.


Cooking time: grill ingredients for 40 minutes in the oven, after that approximately 30 minutes of preparation

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  • Salad (frisée, or scarole)
  • 1 jar of big pieces of tuna

For the Romesco sauce:

  • 1 ñora, a typical dried pepper from Spain, available in France in big supermarkets for instance, but if you cannot find these then replace with any other dried pepper
  • 2 slices of toast (two days old bread)
  • 1 whole garlic
  • 4 tomatoes
  • Handful of almonds
  • Handful of hazelnuts
  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar (preferably Xeres vinegar)

How to prepare:

  • Start by putting your ñora or dried pepper in a bowl with warm water
  • Pre-heat your oven at 220 degrees
  • Cut the top of the tomatoes off, and make a cross on the bottom part with a knife, which will make peeling the skin off easier later on

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  • Put the tomatoes, garlic, toast, almonds and hazelnuts, with a bit of olive oil on top in the oven for 40 minutes
  • Check sometimes during those 40 minutes: if you see that the bread, or the hazelnuts and almonds go too quick in the oven, you take them out before, and put the rest back in. You can also turn the bread once if it is already dark brown grilled on one side.
  • With a teaspoon peel out the inside (the flesh) of the ñora and put this in a separate bowl

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  • After 40 minutes take your plate out of the stove and with a fork and knife, peel off the skin of the tomatoes and take off a bit of the tomato seeds inside. Don’t worry to try to take all the seeds out, just globally will be fine.
  • Put the tomatoes and the bread into the bowl with the ñora and push a bit with a spoon to break the bread before putting it in the mixer.
  • Cut the garlic in half and put the inside parts one by one in your mixer by pushing them out. They will be very soft and easy to push out.

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  • Put everything in your mixer, including the almonds and hazelnuts.
  • add 220 ml of olive oil
  • and add 50 ml of Xeres vinegar
  • Mix it all up
  • According to your own taste add some salt

Just wait for the Romesco sauce to cool off and you can then serve it on the salad with the tuna.

Yolanda says that in Spain they also sell the ñoras in powder form, so for those going to Spain on a holiday, have a look in the local supermarket!




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