With a little kick of chilli and a roasted almond flavour, romesco makes a lively complement to seafood, and also a tasty dip for crudités. Serves 6 as a shared snack or side.
For romesco, preheat oven to 200C. Place capsicum, chillies and tomatoes in a bowl with 2 tsp olive oil, toss and season to taste. Scatter in a roasting tray, then add almonds to the same tray, but keep separate. Roast, turning capsicum and chillies occasionally, until golden. Remove almonds after 15-20 minutes; capsicum, chillies and tomato after 25 minutes. Cool slightly, then peel capsicum and chillies, discarding as many of the seeds as desired. Transfer to a blender, add almonds and remaining ingredients, and blend until smooth. Makes about 1¼ cups.
Meanwhile, blanch asparagus for about 2-3 minutes, refresh then drain well and serve with romesco and witlof leaves.
As seen in the October 2013 issue of Gourmet Traveller magazine.