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Sheet-pan feta with peppers and tomatoes riffs on romesco sauce

By G. Daniela Galarza Washington Post

The inspiration for this recipe, a radiant sheet-pan meal that’s done in less than 40 minutes, is the Spanish sauce romesco. I love the fruity and nutty richness of that sauce, and after making it a few times, I realized it was hearty and nutritious enough to become a meal on its own.

Traditionally made in a mortar and pestle, a classic romesco features roasted garlic, roasted tomatoes, smoked peppers, almonds or hazelnuts, olive oil, sherry vinegar and bits of stale bread. The nuts and bread give it richness and a texture that resembles thick corduroy. Because it’s a sauce that’s usually served with meat, fish or chicken, its flavor can be quite bold and brash.

To turn it into dinner, I deconstructed it and mellowed it out a little. Here, the garlic is replaced by chopped red onion, and red and orange bell peppers tag in for the traditional Spanish ñora chiles. These join cherry tomatoes and slabs of creamy feta on a sheet tray with a drizzle of olive oil.

After about half an hour in the oven, the feta turns soft and lightly toasted, the tomatoes slump and share their tangy juices, the peppers become soft and sweet, and the nuts get even crunchier. A drizzle of sherry vinegar tames the sweetness, and a generous sprinkle of chopped parsley gives it some pep. Serve it all over thick slices of crusty bread – rubbed with roasted or raw garlic, if you’d like – to soak up all of those fruity juices and the soft, creamy cheese.

Romesco-Inspired

Sheet Pan Feta With Peppers and Tomatoes

¼ cup olive oil

3 red or orange bell peppers (1½ pounds total), seeded and cut into thick slices

1 small red onion, chopped

12 ounces cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes

½ cup whole almonds, roasted and unsalted

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt

8 ounces cow or sheep’s milk feta, drained and sliced into 4 large slabs

Crushed red pepper flakes and/or freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons water

1 small bunch parsley, chopped

Crusty bread, for serving

Position a rack in the middle of an oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

On a large, rimmed baking sheet, combine the olive oil, bell peppers, onion, cherry tomatoes and almonds. Using your hands, gently toss them together so that everything is well coated with the oil. Spread into an even layer and season with the salt.

Nestle the feta blocks in with the vegetables, letting them rest at the bottom of the sheet pan. Season everything with a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and/or a few grinds of black pepper.

Roast, rotating the pan once halfway through baking, for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the peppers and onions are soft, the tomatoes have just burst and the feta looks slightly melty.

In a small cup, stir together the vinegar and water and drizzle it over the just-roasted vegetables. Sprinkle the parsley on top and serve family-style with crusty bread on the side.

Storage notes: Leftovers can be refrigerated in a covered container for as long as 4 days.

Yield: 3 to 4 servings

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