Ainsley Harriott’s sirloin steak, crushed potatoes and red pepper Romesco sauce

Romesco is a classic Spanish sauce popular throughout the Mediterranean. Traditionally made from slow-roasted tomatoes, I’m using a jar of roasted red peppers for a quick and punchy accompaniment to the steak and crispy potatoes. Any leftover sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a week. It’s also great with chicken or fish, or try stirring through some cooked pasta for a tasty vegan meal.

Ainsley Harriott sirloin steak
Dan Jones

SERVES 4

olive oil, for greasing and drizzling
700g baby new potatoes
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 x 200g sirloin steaks
1 tbsp butter, or more if cooking in batches (optional)

TO SERVE

watercress

FOR THE RED PEPPER ROMESCO SAUCE

35g blanched whole almonds
1 slice of bread, toasted and crusts removed
2-3 roasted red peppers from a jar (around 175g)
1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped
½ tsp sweet/hot smoked paprika
½ red chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tbsp sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
3-4 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ lemon, for squeezing

1. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and lightly grease a baking tray with olive oil. Put the potatoes into a large saucepan of water over a medium heat, bring to the boil and cook for 12-14 minutes until tender. Drain well, then tip the potatoes on to the prepared baking tray and use a potato masher or large fork to gently squash each potato until it flattens and splits slightly but remains in one piece. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle over the thyme and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of your potatoes, until crispy and golden.

2. Meanwhile, make the romesco sauce. In a dry pan over a medium heat, toast the almonds for about 2 minutes. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Put the toasted almonds, bread, peppers, garlic, paprika, chilli, parsley and vinegar in a blender and blitz until you have a paste. With the motor running, drizzle in enough of the olive oil to make a smooth but still slightly textured sauce. Season with salt and pepper and add lemon juice to taste. Set aside.

3. Heat a griddle pan or large frying pan over a high heat until just beginning to smoke. Drizzle the steaks with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Add to the pan, turn the heat down to medium-high and cook for 1 minute. Turn the steak and cook for 1 minute, then add the butter to the pan (if using) and cook for a further 2 minutes on each side for medium, basting constantly with the pan juices, or until cooked to your liking. If cooking in batches, you may need to add more butter to the pan as needed. Once cooked, remove from the pan, season with pepper and leave to rest for 3-4 minutes before serving with the potatoes, a handful of watercress and the romesco sauce.

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Ainsley's Mediterranean CookbookAinsley’s Mediterranean Cookbook by Ainsley Harriott will be published on 26 March by Ebury Press, price £20. To preorder a copy for £16 with free p&p until 5 April, go to mailshop.co.uk or call 01603 648155.