Brown Butter-Maple Romesco With Charred Scallions

December  2, 2022
3 Ratings
Photo by MJ Kroeger
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 2 to 3
Author Notes

Welcome to Plus One, a column by Food Editor Emily Ziemski where small-but-mighty additions—ingredients, sauces, toppings—that instantly upgrade whatever’s on the table are the star of the show. Today, a savory, nutty addition to the classic romesco sauce.

A sauce is the ultimate plus one, so to kick off this column I’m giving one of my savory favorites a bit of a twist with a few simple ingredients that add extra layers of complexity and deliciousness. Romesco is a Catalonian sauce that, at its core, is a rough blend of tomatoes, nuts (usually almonds or hazelnuts), garlic, and a pepper or two. Olive oil is typically used to lend silky texture to the sauce while melding seamlessly with the other flavors. Here, I’ve eschewed that and traded the olive oil for the rich nuttiness of a browned butter, which culls the bright and deep acid notes of the roasted tomatoes. The maple syrup works in perfectly sweet tandem with it all—its caramel-like undertones evoke a toasty flavor that complement the browned butter and almonds. Honey would be a nice substitute, but avoid swapping in any granulated sugars as they’d be too bright and forward.

A lovely, flaky piece of fish, like cod or halibut, could be a perfect protein to accompany this spread, as would (my personal favorite) a skewer of lamb. When served with charred alliums, it makes a wonderful side dish to a larger-format meal. In this particular recipe, I’m choosing scallions simply because I regularly struggle to work through a full bunch. I’m prone to using half for scallion pancakes and maybe another single stalk for garnish, and then before you know it, it’s been two weeks and I have a sad, wilted half-bunch of scallions in my care, so this is a really tidy way for me to use up my inventory. Plus, they make a great foil to the romesco.

With a quick char, the scallions are tenderized and their sharp bite is rendered mellow; the tangy undertones that remain are emboldened by the sauce’s vibrant, earthy flavors. Char is one of my favorite cold-weather flavor profiles—reminiscent of smelling the sweet, permeating smoke of wood fire stoves blooming in the air when the weather drops below 50 degrees. It’s also a reminder that smoke isn’t all about burning, it’s about creating texture and drawing out the deepest notes of a dish.

I’d love to know how you plan to enjoy this savory, smoky plus one, so drop me a line in the comments below.Emily Ziemski

What You'll Need
  • For the romesco:
  • 2 medium roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup (80g) unsalted almonds, preferably Marcona
  • 4 tablespoons (25g) unsalted butter
  • 4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 pieces (about 1/2 ounce) oil-packed sundried tomatoes
  • 1/2 ounce (15g) dried ancho chile peppers, or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 ounces toasted sourdough breadcrumbs (or fresh baguette, diced)
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) red wine vinegar, plus more if desired
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • Cracked black pepper, to taste
  • For the charred scallions:
  • 1 bunch scallions, kept whole
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. For the romesco:
  2. Heat the oven to 450°F and line two sheet pans with foil. Place the roma tomatoes on one sheet. Roast for 8 to 13 minutes, or until lightly blistered and starting to break down. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl, and allow to cool, then peel and core. Place the almonds on the second sheet pan. Roast 3 to 5 minutes, or until they emit a nutty aroma and are lightly toasted.
  3. While the tomatoes roast, make the browned butter. In a small saucepan, add the butter and heat over medium-high until melted. Stir occasionally, until the butter has started to foam and smells nutty (but not burned), about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
  4. In a food processor, add garlic and blend on medium-high until roughly chopped. Add salt, both roasted and sundried tomatoes, and chile peppers; blend on medium-high until fully combined. Pause to scrape down the sides of the base, as needed. Add breadcrumbs and almonds and blend until a smooth paste begins to form. Keeping the blender running, slowly stream in the browned butter, red wine vinegar, and maple syrup one at a time until desired consistency is achieved (pretty thick, but spreadable, like just-melted ice cream). If necessary, stream in up to 2 tablespoons warm water to help blend and loosen the mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside for serving.
  5. Store in an airtight container for up to a week. When reusing, let romesco come to room temperature, or add a few teaspoons of warm water to get things flowing again.
  1. For the charred scallions:
  2. In a bowl, toss scallions with 1 teaspoon olive oil and salt, using your hands to coat the scallions thoroughly. Heat a large grill pan (or skillet) over high heat. Once hot, brush the pan with remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add the scallions and cook, rotating occasionally, until tender and charred in some places, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Serve the scallions over a bed of the romesco.

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Recipe by: Emily Ziemski

Food Editor @ Food52

3 Reviews

Garlic December 12, 2022
Such an easy way to add flavor to dinner! Spooned over rice bowl with roast salmon, eggplant and bok choy
Emily Z. December 13, 2022
Roast salmon sounds like a lovely accompaniment!
SandSoc December 4, 2022
I made this as written. The flavors are extraordinary, I can certainly see how lamb would stand up at attention with this sauce. It really wakes up winter tomatoes and you could even enjoy it on toast with a little goat cheese on top, excellent!