Romesco is a rich Spanish sauce of charred red peppers and tomatoes, puréed and thickened with toasted almonds and bread - although I personally feel the bread is optional. The first time I ever tried Romesco was in Spain and it was unforgettable. I have since devoured it in many different styles from mild to highly flavorful, from almost a thin drizzling sauce to a thick spread. The style I prefer is thick enough to spread a generous layer on crostini and not slide off. Like at all. Almost peanut butter texture (not the thin, natural kind), but not quite.
My favorite way to eat it is over grilled veggies such as broccoli, asparagus or zucchini as an app or side dish. I’ve also been known to stand by the fridge and eat leftover Romesco on pita chips, rosemary crackers, the occasional handful of Fritos, and whatever else needs a hit of tangy, smoky flavor.
This recipe is my current favorite and is very loosely based on the New York Times Cooking recipe which at this time has 480 reviews and a full five out of five stars. I use ½ the bread (not fancy bread by the way) and my husband Brent added more smoked paprika plus an additional ingredient – smoked Aleppo pepper which both add extra smoky richness, which I am a huge fan of. I have included both “traditional” ingredients as well as some shortcut options that will still make a delicious Romesco to share with friends - or keep all to yourself!
This sauce can easily be made gluten-free - simply omit bread.
As written, the sauce will be pretty thick – just how I like it so I can get as much on a bite as I want. If too thick for your taste, add a little water at a time until desired consistency is reached.
Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a week.
Romesco sauce freezes very well.
Suggested pairing: 2018 Pinot Noir, 2018 Merlot, 2019 Reverence, 2019 Chardonnay,
2019 Riesling Grand Klasse Reserve
Yield: About 2 cups
2-3 large garlic cloves, peeled
¾ c roasted or toasted almonds (smoked almonds add great smoky flavor if you don’t have smoked Aleppo pepper)
1 c jarred roasted red peppers, drained OR 1 large red pepper, roasted or grilled, peeled, seeds and membranes removed
2 T tomato paste OR 3 medium tomatoes or 4 Roma tomatoes, cores and seeds removed (we grilled these too, yum!)
0-2 thick slices baguette or country-style bread, lightly toasted (we used 1 slice Dave’s White Done Right)
2 T chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 t Chile powder or red pepper flakes, or more to taste (pepper flakes are hotter)
1 t sweet paprika or Spanish smoked paprika
¾ t salt, preferably kosher salt, or to taste (less if the almonds you’re using are salted)
¼ t freshly ground pepper, or to taste
2 T sherry vinegar (can sub with red wine vinegar)
¼ to ½ c extra virgin olive oil, as needed
¼ t cayenne pepper for extra heat
water to thin if desired
finely shredded parmesan or finely chopped Italian parsley for garnish
Brent's optional add-ons for increased depth of smoky flavor:
1 t smoked Aleppo pepper
additional 1 t smoked paprika
1. Turn on a food processor fitted with the steel blade and drop in garlic cloves. When the garlic is chopped and adheres to the sides of the bowl, stop the machine and scrape down the sides. Add almonds, bread if using, and Chile powder or flakes to the bowl and process to a paste.
2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add peppers, tomato paste or tomatoes, parsley, paprika, salt and pepper. Process until smooth, and with the machine running, add the vinegar and olive oil in a slow stream, beginning with the smaller amount of olive oil and thinning out as desired. Process until well amalgamated, then taste and adjust seasonings. Process again, taste, adjust seasonings until you are happy with the final product. Scrape into a serving bowl or store in the fridge in an airtight container. The flavors will get even better over time.
3. If possible, allow the sauce to stand for an hour at room temperature before using. Serve with grilled vegetables, grilled chicken, fish or beef,
or on crostini or crackers. Garnish ala minute with
finely grated parmesan or finely chopped Italian parsley.