The first time I had romesco sauce was on a trip to San Francisco to visit old friends. We had lunch at Greens, a well-known vegetarian restaurant at the Presidio. I ordered their roasted veggie slab, an enormous freshly-made ciabatta sandwich piled high with roasted veggies. To this day I remember how amazingly delicious that sandwich was and how beautiful the view of the bay and the Golden Gate from our table next to the big picture window (no fog that day).
Besides the ciabatta and the perfectly grilled vegetables, what really made the sandwich so memorable was the romesco sauce. It was this perfectly sweet, yet savory, yet slightly spicy spread that added an entirely new dimension to the sandwich.
Thus began my love affair with romesco sauce.
Romesco sauce, or salsa romesco, is Spanish in origin, specifically the Catalonia area in North West Spain. Legend says that the fisherman of Tarragona (the specific town in the Catalonia region from which romesco is supposed to come) would make this sauce with a mortar and pestle to eat with the fresh catch of the day.
It’s rich, creamy, and absolutely full of bright, sweet-roasted-savory flavor. It’s such an amazing addition to any meal you can roast on the grill, like vegetables, chicken, beef, corn on the cob, broccoli, in a salad, on a roasted veggie sandwich… (I should probably create a recipe, come to think of it…). Also, of course, it goes well with fish. One word of caution: because it’s such a strongly flavorful sauce, I wouldn’t use it with anything too delicate, like a mild-flavored white fish. The romesco would just end up being overwhelming and the only thing you could taste.
It also lends itself perfectly to the inclusion of farmers market produce, especially tomatoes and peppers. It’s what I used to make the romesco in these pictures. It just adds that special addition of sweet (and sweet pepper) flavor. Thus, this farmers market romesco.
I admit, this recipe isn’t as simple as most of the recipes I post here—definitely not a set-it and forget-it type of sauce. You have to prep and roast many of the ingredients. It’s absolutely worth it, though, and if you’re already grilling, why not add a few more ingredients?
There are also two ingredients you may not have but are pretty essential to give this recipe its taste—smoked Spanish paprika and sherry vinegar. The smoked paprika gives the sauce a deeper, smoky flavor and the sherry vinegar gives a slightly acidic but mildly sweet addition. A vinegar like balsamic would be too strong, in my opinion.
Also, you’ll need to roast peppers and peel them. If you need more information, you can look at the blog on roasting green chile and follow the instructions there—the result will be the same no matter what pepper you use.
- 1 slice of day-old crusty bread (gluten free works very well if you so desire)
- ¼ C of almonds
- 3 to 5 cloves of garlic
- 2 large bell peppers
- 1 tomato (or a cup of little ones)
- ¼ C. olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. smoked Spanish paprika
- Salt and Pepper
- Toast the almonds in a pan over medium heat, stirring often, until just golden.
- Toast the piece of bread until golden.
- Roast the peppers and tomatoes on the grill or under the broiler until soft or, in the case of the peppers, charred all over, about 20 minutes (but check often).
- Put the peppers into a plastic bag or into a bowl covered with plastic wrap and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the skin from the peppers along with the core and seeds.
- Place all ingredients into a food processor and puree until smooth. You can add any seasoning to taste.
- Romesco sauce can be kept in an air-tight container for up to 5 days.
It takes a bit of prep, but I promise it’s completely worth it–we’ve been eating the batch I made last week on pretty much everything–no joke!
‘Till next time!