Spanish Romesco Sauce

Spanish Romesco Sauce

The first time I ever made this, I was working my way through a shiny new Spanish cookbook and this sauce was a component of one of the recipes. I instantly fell in love with it. It is a very fresh and versatile Spanish sauce that works great as a dip with fresh veggies or bread, a salsa gobbled up with tortilla chips or pita chips, or a condiment for fish, scallops, and other meats. Serve it a room temperature for the maximum flavor, and make up your own ways to use it.

Spanish Romesco Sauce (Catalan Roasted Vegetable Sauce)
recipe adapted from José Andrés

½ C (8 T) Spanish extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1-2 t extra for coating
1 red bell pepper, halved, stem and seeds removed
6 ripe plum tomatoes
1 head garlic, halved horizontally, papery outer skin removed
1 yellow onion
3 dried ñora chili peppers (optional)*
¼ C slivered almonds
1 oz white bread, crusts removed
1 T sherry vinegar
1 t pimentón (sweet Spanish paprika)
1½ to 2 t salt , to taste
* any other dried sweet chili pepper can be used as a substitute; these peppers will make the sauce more authentically Spanish, but the dried peppers can also be omitted

Heat oven to 350 F. Place the halved bell pepper, whole tomatoes, halved head of garlic and whole onion in a bowl. Toss to coat lightly with a teaspoon or so of olive oil and then spread them out on a roasting pan. Place the pan in the oven and roast for about 25 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Optional: while the vegetables are roasting, place the ñora chilis (or other dried sweet chili) in a bowl and cover with hot water. Soak for 15 minutes or until soft. Discard the liquid and remove the stems and seeds from the peppers. Place the chilis in a blender and puree until a smooth paste. Leave the paste in the blender (unless doing the optional step below of toasting it in the sauté pan).

Take 1 T from the ½ C of olive oil and heat it in a small sauté pan over low heat. Add the almonds and sauté them until just brown, about 1 minute. Transfer the almonds to a bowl and set aside. Raise the heat to medium and add the bread to the pan. Toast the bread until lightly browned, about 30 seconds on each side. Remove the bread and set aside.

Optional: if desired, add the chili paste to the sauté pan and toast for 30 seconds, then remove the pan from the heat.

Once the roasted vegetables are cool enough to handle, peel the bell pepper, tomatoes and onion, squeeze out the individual cloves from the head of garlic, and remove the cores and seeds from the tomatoes. Add the vegetables to the chili paste in the blender. Add the toasted almonds, bread, sherry vinegar, pimentón and the remaining olive oil (7 T). Blend into a uniform sauce; it will be thick and a little chunky. Add salt to taste.

Pour the sauce into a bowl, cover it, and store it in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve at room temperature as a dip with crackers, chips or raw vegetables, as a condiment with seafood, scallops or other meats, or even (with a little extra olive oil) as a dressing for salad greens.

Step by Step Details

Start by getting the vegetables ready to roast. I like to cut things in half first, like the peppers and onions, but you can just throw everything on the pan and roast them whole. Give them a light coat or brush of olive oil and spread them out on the pan.

Romesco Sauce 003

Roast for about 25 minutes, until soft. During that time you can get everything else prepped and ready to go.

Romesco Sauce 008

First up is preparing the “optional” dried ñora chilis, if using. I have made this sauce with and without the dried chilis and it was phenomenal either way. I do think they add “something” to the sauce, so if you can find them (or a substitute) easily, go ahead and use them.

Place the ñora chilis (or other dried sweet chilis) in a bowl and cover with hot water.

Romesco Sauce 010

Soak for 15 minutes or until soft. They will want to keep rising to the top, so you may have to get creative in ways to weigh them down so they stay submerged. (I placed a glass full of water on top of mine to keep them down. It mostly worked.)

After soaking, discard the liquid and remove the stems and seeds from the peppers.

Romesco Sauce 033

Place the chilis in a blender and puree until they become a smooth paste. Note: here’s where my version differs from the original recipe: you’re supposed to remove the paste, strain it through a fine sieve, and then toast it in a hot pan, but I didn’t do that. Since there was so little paste in the blender at all, and it was so thick, I just left it there and figured it would be fine. And it was. So, unless you are doing the step below of toasting it in the sauté pan, just leave the paste in the blender.

Take 1 T from the ½ C of olive oil and heat it in a small sauté pan over low heat. Add the almonds and sauté them until just brown, about 1 minute. Transfer the almonds to a bowl and set aside. Raise the heat to medium and add the bread to the pan.

Romesco Sauce 020

Toast the bread until lightly browned, about 30 seconds on each side. Remove the bread and set aside.

Here’s the optional step I chose not to do: add the ñora chili paste to the sauté pan and toast for 30 seconds, then remove the pan from the heat.

Now, back to our roasted vegetables. They will look a little like this when they are done. The toasted almonds and bread wanted in on the photo as well.

Romesco Sauce 023

Once the vegetables are cool enough to handle, peel the bell pepper, tomatoes and onion. The tomato skins will be especially easy to peel…just pinch them off.

Romesco Sauce 026

Squeeze out the individual cloves from the head of garlic. They will just pop right out with a gentle pinch.

Romesco Sauce 028

Remove the cores and seeds from the tomatoes and then put all the vegetables in the blender. Add the almonds, bread, chili paste, sherry vinegar, pimentón, and the remaining olive oil (7 T of the original ½ C will be left).

Romesco Sauce 035

Note: Use a big enough blender/food processor. I keep thinking I can get away with my smallest one, but then end up either having to do things in batches, stirring it all together at the end, or digging out the larger appliance I should have used in the first place. Silly me…

Blend into a uniform sauce; it will be thick and a little chunky. Add salt to taste.

Romesco Sauce 037

Pour the sauce into a bowl and store it (covered) in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Spanish Romesco Sauce

Serve at room temperature as a dip with crackers, chips or raw vegetables, as a condiment with seafood, scallops or other meats, or even (with a little extra olive oil) as a dressing for salad greens.

Romesco Sauce cover 002

I even made a super good beef casserole/hotdish with it. Enjoy!

Romesco Beef Casserole

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Spanish Romesco Sauce

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s