Oh, how I love romesco. A pureed blend of roasted red pepper, tomato, garlic, toasted almonds, sherry vinegar and smoked paprika, this Spanish sauce has everything I love most: tang, sweet, salt + heat. The first time I had it was alongside a pile of charred green onions at a tapas restaurant. I dragged the singed onions through the coarsely pureed, orange-hued sauce and slurped them down like noodles. I ate every last bit of that sauce. When there were no more onions to dip, I switched to mopping it up with bread. I was a woman bewitched.
I’ve made several unsuccessful versions of romesco sauce in the years since that first encounter–most recently a recipe with torn bread that had the sad consistency of paste and far too much vinegar.
What I like about this version I’ve adapted from Bon Appetit is its balance and simplicity. Every ingredient has a job to do; all you have to do is whir them together in a food processor or mash them with a mortar and pestle.
Don’t feel constrained by romesco’s distinctive flavor. Like worcestershire sauce, you can put this sh** on everything. I like a few dollops over fried eggs or mixed in with al dente pasta, spread on good bread plain or with a few tomato slices and Manchego cheese, or spooned over grilled corn or ribeye steaks.
1 large roasted red pepper (good quality jarred red peppers are fine)
1 garlic clove, smashed
1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup tomato puree (I like Pomi brand)
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne (depending on how hot you like it)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Method: Combine the pepper, garlic, almonds, tomato, parsley, vinegar and paprika in a food processor or mortar. Pulse or mash with a pestle until coarsely pureed.
With the processor on low (or while stirring constantly with the pestle), slowly drizzle in the olive oil, and blend for another minute or so to combine. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve at room temperature.
Note: You can store romesco in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.