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Wake up veggies with romesco sauce

Romesco sauce is a wakeup call for boring veggies. Gutsy and garlicky, this Spanish sauce is sultry with ground almonds. Rich and intense, it’s complex enough to hold its own. It has a rosy terracotta hue, but it’s more than just pretty on a plate.

As a dip or dab, romesco coaxes out vegetables’ natural luster. This romesco, made in a food processor or a blender, aims to deliver maximum flavor with minimal time and arcane ingredients. It may be made several days ahead and refrigerated. Allow it to come to room temperature before serving with roasted, raw or steamed vegetables. It’s also nice slathered on crusty bread.

Romesco Sauce

2/3 cup blanched, whole almonds

1 mild dried chile, such as an ancho

1 slice baguette, torn into pieces

3 garlic cloves, peeled

1-2 ripe plum tomatoes or 2/3 cup canned fire-roasted tomatoes, drained

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

1½ teaspoons sweet paprika

1/3 cup olive oil

Sea salt to taste

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Pour nuts onto a small rimmed baking sheet and toast until they darken slightly and smell buttery, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, set chile in a small bowl and add enough boiling water to cover. When cool, drain pepper. Remove and discard seeds and stem.

Drop bread, garlic, chile and almonds into a food processor or blender. Process for a minute or so, until a thick paste forms, scraping the sides. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, paprika and olive oil and pulse.

The sauce should be of a hummus-like consistency, thick but not gluey. Add a tablespoon or two of water if it seems too dry. Add sea salt to taste. Makes about 1½ cups, 8 servings.