Romesco sauce

romesco sauce

Everybody loves romesco sauce! (Well, everybody except my 6-year-old son, but he claims to have eaten earthworms, so his taste is suspect. Shocking, I know! We’re vegetarian!) When people first taste romesco sauce, their faces instantly light up, and they have to eat some more and they say, “What is this? It’s delicious!” I’ve seen it happen many times!

Romesco sauce is a combination of roasted red peppers, roasted tomatoes, hazlenuts, almonds, bread, and lots of paprika. In an ideal world, you’d roast the peppers over an open fire, and roast the tomatoes for hours in your oven. In a slightly less ideal world, you’d roast the peppers on the flame of your gas burner. Sigh. I don’t have a gas stove, so I broil my peppers, and they turn out fine. And this time of year, I cheat and use roasted tomatoes from a can. (Hunts fire-roasted diced, as it happens). You could also use peppers from a jar. This sauce will still taste good!

It’s a very versatile sauce. Good with roasted vegetables, good as a dip for chips or crackers, good on sliced baguette, good as a pizza sauce, a pasta sauce, a sauce for savory pies (particularly those with lots of greens) or croquettes.

Here’s Art Pepper’s Red Pepper Blues.

2 largish red peppers (or 1 cup pre-roasted)
1 to 2 cups diced roasted tomatoes (depending on how tomato-y you like your sauce. I go with one cup, so the nuts and peppers get a say, too.)
1/4 cup hazelnuts – toasted
1/4 cup almonds – toasted
2 large cloves garlic
1 slice ciabatta or a few slices baguette, lightly fried in olive oil.
2 t. spanish smoked paprika
red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
1/8 cup sherry vinegar (balsamic works fine, too)
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup parsley (optional)

1. Roast the peppers. I slice them in halves or thirds, remove the seeds, put them face down on a foil-covered sheet, and broil them till they’re black in many places, and quite soft. (I roast the garlic cloves at the same time, but watch them, because they’ll burn quicker)
Then I put them in a little pot with a lid. Or you can use a bowl with a plate on it, or with foil across the top. You want them to steam for a little while. Then you remove the charred skins, and chop them roughly.

broiled peppers

2. Put the garlic, nuts and bread in the blender or processor, and process till they’re gravelly. Add the tomatoes, peppers and spices, and process again.

3. slowly pour the olive oil into the mix as you blend everything. And then slowly pour the vinegar as you keep blending. The mixture should lighten up as it becomes more smooth, and everything emulsifies. If you’re using parsley, stir it in at the end, well chopped.

4. Season with salt and pepper, and taste to make sure all the flavors are balanced.

Romesco is good served room temperature, but you can warm it for pasta sauce as well.


9 thoughts on “Romesco sauce

  1. Hello, Beth! I think it would work without the garlic, because there are so many other strong flavors. It might be a little milder, but you’d taste everything else more clearly. I suppose you could throw in a roasted shallot instead, for a different but probably equally tasty flavor.

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