August 1, 2016
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.
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.
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.