This spread is based off of romesco. Ya know, that smokey sauce made from roasted red peppers, almonds, and tomato that makes anything taste better. I wanted to showcase the versatility of walnuts and this dish by subbing walnuts instead of almonds, adding avocado for creaminess and additional nutrition, as well as balsamic vinegar, which I feel really complements the smoked paprika and toasted walnuts. It’s like that subtle touch of sweetness you least expect, but wouldn’t want any other way. I wanted to stick to using whole foods for the ingredients, so instead of commonly used canned tomato paste in this dish, I used a fresh roma tomato. For the typical jarred roasted red pepper, I substituted a fresh red bell pepper.

Why avocado? Well, the sauce is comprised of mainly nuts, oil, and roasted vegetables. I liked the idea of the additional creaminess from the avocado complementing the base of the sauce, without compromising flavor..You totally can’t taste it.

This dip is comprised of healthy fats from the olive oil, avocado, and walnuts. An ounce of walnuts has 2.5 grams of the plant-based omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber to help keep you satiated.

I enjoy what the walnuts bring to the table in this dish (pun not intended). They provide a smoother texture for the sauce, which makes it capable of being used in many dishes, e.g. pizza or pasta sauce, accompaniment with crudités or your favorite crusty bread, topping for eggs, meat, poultry, potatoes, you know good stuff.

These walnuts were so aromatic..

The scent that filled my kitchen as they were roasting was delightful. I bit into one, to determine whether or not the roasting session was complete, and I couldn’t believe I haven’t tried romesco with walnuts before. I knew they’d make the dish.

I’ve been putting this stuff on whatever savory I have in my kitchen- rotisserie chicken, cucumbers, spaghetti squash, hardboiled eggs, and my favorite: a fork.

Whether or not you are familiar with romesco sauce, I encourage you to try out this beautifully colored and spiced spread <3

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+Ingredients:

3/4 cup walnuts

1/2 avocado

1 large red bell pepper (6-7 oz)

1 roma tomato (4-5 oz)

3 cloves garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (use less if you prefer minimal spicy)

1/4 tsp salt

 

+Directions:
  • Heat oven to 350F
  • Place walnuts on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 15-25 minutes. You will smell the walnuts and they will have slightly darkened a bit. They will continue to cook once removed from oven so be careful as to not over bake. Let cool once removed from oven.
  • Wash and slice bell pepper in half, removing the stem and seeds. Place whole roma tomato and red bell pepper on parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle a little olive oil over produce
  • Place garlic cloves on same parchment sheet, no oil required
  • Bake the tomato and pepper for about 1 hr, or until skin is shriveled and slightly charred. Remove garlic cloves after about 20-30 minutes of baking; be careful not to burn, they will not need the full time of baking. Remove from oven and let cool.
  • Place remaining and recently baked and cooled ingredients in food processor and process until smooth. Modify seasoning to your preference
  • Serve immediately and enjoy. Place leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge

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“I received free samples of California walnuts mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the California Walnut Commission and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”

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