I have a salt tooth. Even as a little kid, I was on the fence about candy. Sure, I’ll eat a little dessert here and there, but it’s not a driving force. At one of my first jobs out of college my office mates wanted to throw me a birthday party. I kindly requested that they didn’t buy a cake, but instead encouraged them to get a round of brie and pop a few candles on top. They did and it was perfect! Today I’m mostly “planty,” (my husband’s new perfect descriptor versus the rather dull “plant-based”) so I’d skip the brie, but maybe instead ask for a container of cashew cheese. Most granolas on the market are way too sweet for me, so I came up with this recipe that I think is just about perfect. Sometimes I have all the nuts and seeds listed below, but sometimes not — it’s a very flexible recipe. Often I’ll swap out some for things like ground chia (if you don’t grind the chia, the pesky little seeds embed themselves in your teeth) or hemp seeds. However, if you like things a little sweeter, just add more honey. Or if you prefer a richer, denser version, increase the oil. By the way, nuts and seeds go rancid pretty quickly, so I keep a small amount of the granola in a glass jar on my counter, but freeze the rest to keep it fresh.
I’ve been making variations of this succulent sauce since 1997. Romesco sauce is from Catalonia and is usually served over fish or other meat. It is frequently made with both almonds and hazelnuts as well as stale bread crumbs. My version is slightly different, but still hits those same taste notes. I usually serve it over grilled veggies, spread on tortillas topped with avocado and salad greens, dolloped on top of slices of baguette, thinned out and drizzled over orzo, etc.
I nearly always have everything for this in my kitchen, which means that even though we’ve been pretty homebound these last few months, I can usually make this without a trip to the store. In my freezer I always have almonds (if you don’t already, do store your nuts in the freezer to prevent them going rancid) and bags of red bell peppers that I roasted and froze the previous summer. If you don’t have sherry vinegar, substitute a light balsamic. If you don’t have smoked paprika, just use regular paprika.