I don’t know where I originally saw it or what context it was in, but I recently wrote “pumpkin, red pepper, and olive” in the little notebook that I use to keep track of recipe ideas and inspiration. Kind of a weird combination, right? But ever since I wrote it down, I’ve been obsessed with trying out that flavor combination.

I spent a few weeks dreaming up ways to make the ingredients work together, and then came up with this recipe for roast salmon with romesco over pumpkin and olive grits. It worked. The flavors were subtle but complex – not as bold as I usually go for – but this was really, really good.

Here’s the thing with grits though – make sure you cook them over low heat and stir them pretty often. If they get too hot, they’ll spit and sputter all over the place. Not only will that make a mess, but it can be dangerous! I didn’t have my burner as low as I should have, and I have a nasty burn on my arm to show for it. Lesson learned.


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Romesco Roast Salmon over Pumpkin and Olive Grits

Serves 2.Prep Time:  10 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes

This easy yet elegant dinner highlights the classic Spanish flavor of Romesco. Use prepared sauce, or follow the recipe below to make your own. If desired, polenta can be substituted for the grits.

Ingredients

  • 2 (6 ounce) Salmon Filets
  • 2 Tablespoons Romesco (see recipe below)
  • 2 cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock
  • 1/2 cup Quick Cooking Grits
  • 1 cup Pumpkin Puree
  • 1/4 cup Mixed Olives (Kalamata, Nicoise, Spanish Queen, etc), pitted and chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley, chopped
  • Black Pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Slather each salmon portion with 1 Tablespoon of Romesco and place on a baking sheet. Roast the salmon for 10-15 minutes, or until it is cooked to a medium level of doneness.
  2. Meanwhile, bring the stock to a boil in a medium saucepan set to medium-high heat. When the stock comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and add the grits and the pumpkin. Cook, stirring frequently, until a thick porridge has formed – about 5 minutes. Stir in the olives and season with black pepper.
  3. To serve, spoon half the grits onto each serving plate. Top with a potion of roast salmon and sprinkle with fresh parsley.

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Romesco

Yields approximately 1 cup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Romesco is a flavorful sauce with Spanish origins. Made with a base of nuts, red peppers, olive oil, and bread, it is delicious with seafood or vegetables. Leftover sauce can be frozen, or will keep for several week refrigerated under a layer of olive oil.

Ingredients

  • 1 (approx. ½ pound) Tomato
  • 2 cloves Garlic, separated
  • 2 Tablespoons slivered Almonds
  • 1 Roasted Red Pepper
  • 1/4 cup stale Bread Cubes or unseasoned croutons
  • 1 teaspoon Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Place the tomato slices and one garlic clove on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until the tomato is soft and caramelized, but not browned.
  2. Add cooked tomato, garlic, almonds, bread and vinegar to a food processor or blender. Process until smooth. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, continuing to process the sauce, until the oil has been incorporated and you are left with a thick sauce.

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