Romesco Sauce (Salsa Romesco)

Romesco Sauce
Romesco Sauce
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Romesco Sauce

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August 1, 2016This amazingly versatile romesco sauce from Spain requires nothing more than quality ingredients and a little love to transform the ordinary to the sublime.

  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • 20 mins

    30 mins

    50 mins

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Yields: 2 cups

There are few things I can think of that are more Spanish or versatile than romesco sauce. Hailing from Catalonia, this simple sauce is as at home on grilled vegetables as it is on meat or fish. A good romesco sauce can elevate a dish from simple to sublime.

There are no real tricks or secrets to making this. Carefully roasted ingredients with good quality paprika and olive oil make it an almost certain success. This is not meant to be a smooth sauce, the texture is important, so there is no need to fuss about with sieves or straining. The slight coarseness of the sauce, thickened by nuts and bread, is an essential factor that makes romesco what it is. Embrace it.

If you don't have a gas stove or barbecue, you may struggle to blacken the peppers. Roasting them a bit longer and hotter in the oven should work almost as well, though you will lose a little of the smokiness that this technique provides.

A sure fire target for this sauce is pan fried squid, scallops, prawns, or any other white fish for that matter. There isn't a rulebook I am aware of for this marvellous creation - so slather it on barbecued lamb or grilled vegetables and you will likely be pleasantly surprised.

You can also adjust the recipe to what you have with ease. Macadamias, hazelnuts or pistachios in the cupboard? No problem. Want to throw in some mint, parsley or more chill? Do it - it won't be a classic romesco, but it will surely be just as delicious.

Ingredients

2 red capsicums (bell peppers)

2 tomatoes, core removed

6 cloves garlic

1 chilli, medium

100g almonds

1 bread, slice, crusts removed

1 tsp sweet smoked paprika

1 tsp hot smoked paprika

40ml sherry vinegar

100ml olive oil

salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Wrap the garlic in foil with a dash of olive oil, then place on a tray in the oven with the tomatoes and chillies.

Char the capsicums over a gas flame until blackened all over (if you don’t have gas you can use a blow torch or just place them in the oven with the other ingredients). Place in a sealed bag or bowl covered in cling film so as to not let the heat escape. Leave to steam for 10-20 minutes.

After 20 minutes in the oven, remove the tomatoes, chilli and garlic and allow to rest a couple of minutes until cool enough to handle. Remove the skins from the roasted vegetables and also the seeds from the chilli, then roughly chop and place in a blender.

Fry the bread in a little olive oil until browned. Tear into pieces and add to the blender.

Carefully remove the black skin from the capsicum and also any seeds and ribs from the inside. Roughly chop and add to the blender.

When the vegetables are cool enough to handle, remove the skins and seeds and discard. Roughly chop the remaining flesh.

Roast the almonds in the oven for 3 - 4 minutes until lightly roasted but not coloured. Add to the blender along with the sherry vinegar, salt and pepper.

Blend the ingredients until they form a smooth paste and then with the blender running, add the remaining olive oil slowly so that it emulsifies. The sauce should be textured and rough, rather than smooth. You can pass it through a fine sieve if desired, but it is typically served as is.

Check the seasoning of the sauce and adjust as necessary with salt, pepper and vinegar (or a touch of lemon juice).

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About the author

Ben Macdonald

When Ben isn’t devouring food, he is thinking what to cook next. After spending his adult life eating his way around the world he ended up channelling his culinary creativity as a finalist in Masterchef Australia – famously impressing Heston Blumenthal with a campfire from steak and potatoes - before being eliminated the very next episode.
Following some time in several top restaurants he is now focussed on sharing his love of home cooking and making each meal better than the last.