Spanish Romesco Sauce

Okay, so I’m sort of old for this acronym, but OMG OMG OMG! Have you ever had Romesco sauce? I had it for the first time recently and nearly fell off my chair. Where has this sauce been my whole life? It’s a Spanish sauce, and sort of like pesto, but made with tomatoes, roasted red bell peppers, garlic, and nuts. You can serve it over practically anything, from shrimp to chicken to vegetables. I’ve been making it just to eat plain, like a dip with crackers. Or I put a dollop over baby potatoes. Or I just sneak a spoonful out of the refrigerator for a snack.

Trust me. This one is good.

Like so many regional dishes, Romesco has a gazillion varieties. We’ve linked to a few from other food bloggers at the bottom of the recipe. Our version incorporates smoked paprika, to give a slight smokiness to the flavor of the sauce. Smoked paprika, also known as pimenton, is becoming more and more available in supermarkets, but if you can’t find any, just use regular paprika.

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Spanish Romesco Sauce Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1-inch thick slice of crusty bread, torn into pieces
  • 1/2 cup blanched almonds, chopped or slivered (can substitute hazelnuts, peeled)
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 15-ounce can of crushed tomatoes, or canned whole tomatoes (including the juice) that have been de-seeded, or 1 pound fresh tomatoes that have been par-boiled, skins removed, and de-seeded
  • 1 8-ounce jar of roasted red bell peppers, drained
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika (preferred) or sweet paprika
  • 2-3 Tbsp sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, sauté the bread and almonds, stirring often, until they just begin to brown. Add the garlic and sauté another 1-2 minutes, stirring once or twice.

2 Place the contents of the sauté pan into a food processor with the remaining ingredients—salt, tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, smoked paprika, vinegar. Purée until smooth. Spread the sauce out on a rimmed sheet pan and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the edges begin to caramelize. Allow to cool and scrape into a container to store.

To use romesco sauce, mix with pasta, shrimp, chicken or vegetables either before or after they are cooked, much like you would a pesto.

Kept in a sealed container, Romesco sauce will last for a week or more in the fridge. It freezes well, too.

Hello! All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to the source recipe here on Simply Recipes. Thank you!

Links:

Romesco Potatoes - from Smitten Kitchen
Salmon with Basil Romesco" - from The Nourishing Gourmet
Artichokes with Romesco Sauce - from Slashfood
Romesco Sauce from Kim O'Donnel out of her The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes Carnivores Will Devour

romesco-shrimp.jpg
Little pink shrimp with Romesco sauce and chopped fresh parsley.

59 Comments

  1. Ella

    This sounds like Ajvar only minus the eggplant.
    I’ll definitely try this at home.

  2. Paul

    I love romesco and the idea of the nuttier hazelnuts substituting for almonds is a must try.
    And your very artful photographs, Elise, add to the enticement of your contributions and are only getting better.

  3. WhiledTime

    I just moved to Barcelona and have noticed this sauce everywhere, especially on the famous calcots– which seem to be very tender green onions that are barbecued until they are charred on the outside.

    We having just moved are on a very tight budget so I am glad to have the recipe as now I can try it at home.

    Thanks again Elise– I think we would starve at my house if I didn’t have your recipes to play around with– In all seriousness I think I make something from Simply Recipes every week!

  4. Loretta Lawrence

    I’ve been cooking for years and just last week while watching the Food Network, one of the shows featured Romesco Sauce. It was the first time I’d heard of it. After the show I looked it up and could not believe this sauce had escaped my table for all these years. I love “simplyrecipes” and have your widget on my site in order to get instant updates and just now noticed the recipe. I am going to try your recipe. Will come back with a comment after I try it. How bad can it be, it has “bread” in it….

  5. c

    This looks really good!

    I have made a similar sauce before (I roast the tomatoes in the oven first and then mix all ingredients) and it is also wonderful with clams. I steam the clams, fill the empty shells either with full clams or smaller pieces (depending on size), spoon a bit of sauce over the clams and bake them in the oven at high temperature for a few minutes.

  6. Ann

    I’m going to have to make this. I’ve got spaghetti squash for my foil. I wonder if I just use the paprika I have and add a couple drops of liquid smoke in lieu of the smoked paprika. I’ll try it and let you know. Love, Ann

  7. mantha

    Yes, something like pesto, something like ajvar. I am thinking just a small amount of chipotle, so it’s smoked and a little zingy. I love red bell pepper in the base of anything — my salsas all have a coulisse of sweet red pepper in with the tomato.

    Oh yeah, this one you could eat with a spoon. Your suggestions sound heavenly too — especially tossed with pasta, or on shrimp or some firm white fish. Or to dip with lightly steamed veggies: broccoli, zucchini strips . . .

    Your photos are delicious as always.

  8. Dara

    You’re right – Romesco sauce is fantastic on so many dishes. We like to serve it on simply grilled fish. Even makes us say OMG! ;)

  9. Saskia

    I’m soooo going to make this! I fondly remember all the yummy food I ate while on vacation in Spain. Is there something special about roasted peppers in a jar (I’ve never tried them before) or do you think roasting my own red bell peppers would work?

    Nothing special about the jarred peppers. It’s easy enough to roast your own if you have access to good, fresh red bell peppers. ~Elise

  10. dogtrot

    made tonight! sooooooo YUMS!
    tossed some with bowtie pasta, asparagus on the side. great valentines day din-din with spakling wine! plenty of leftover sauce, too-
    (for a deviant dessert we had urban s’mores: marshmallow cream on graham crackers, oven toasted, finished off with nutella. O!M!G!)

  11. sally cameron

    I totally understand your reaction Elise! It was mine, too, when I first discovered Romesco a few years ago. I love it! There are two ways to make it. One, that you detail above. My recipe is similar. Its so good and so incredibly versatile. There is another way to make it, takes longer, starting with dried Nora peppers. Its even deep, richer and more amazing. Let me know if you’d like the recipe. It was from the LA Times a few years ago. Ah, now I need to make some! Maybe a post with the long version to come.

  12. Carly

    OMG indeed. For me, first it was pesto (with pine nuts! then walnuts! then pistachios! then….), then it was on to tapenade, and now I think it’s safe to say I’m a Romesco convert. I can’t imagine what will win my heart next! And, as a bonus, this sauce’s lovely color makes it perfect for a cold weather pick-me-up :)

  13. edk

    Do you think I can use sweet paprika and liquid smoke in place of smoked paprika?

    Yes. ~Elise

  14. Jennie

    Romesco sauce is my favorite dish… but I didn’t tried it in my home before. This was one of the recipe recommended by myBantu as a valentine’s yummy recipes. I’m planning to try it soon

  15. knittam

    Thank, thank thank!! I am going to try this this week end, can’t wait!!

    There is a spread that I buy from the farmers market, with the same ingredients, except it also has the additions of ricotta cheese and finely grated parmesan. I just eat it with spoon. It is the “cookie dough” of sauces!

  16. janet

    I agree. I love romesco. I will have to try it with smoked paprika. Right now, I really like romesco sauce simmered with chickpeas as a veg-friendly dish.

    If you love romesco, you’ll love muhammara!
    http://tastespace.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/muhammara-syrian-roasted-red-pepper-and-walnut-dip/

  17. Zee

    Any suggested substitute for the almonds, for those allergic to nuts? Thanks.

    If I were allergic to nuts, I would just skip them. ~Elise

  18. Monica

    OMG is right! This recipe has so many of my favorite ingredients (smoked paprika, roasted red bell peppers,…)that it has to be delicious. I use pesto in so many dishes, and I’m anxious to try this “pesto alternative”. YUM.

  19. Amy

    Looks really good. What kind of smoked paprika did you use? Sweet or semi-hot?

    Sweet. ~Elise

  20. Steve-Anna

    OMG OMG OMG is right!! I had this with Elise last weekend and it’s to die for. It’s over the moon. It’s the bees knees. OK, you get the picture ; )

    I can’t wait to make it by the bucket. Farmgirl Susan has it right – you will eat it by the spoonful standing in the kitchen.

    Thanks Elise!!

  21. trish

    I made romesco for the first time last weekend. I am so in love with this sauce. I kept asking my guests…. Do you taste it? Do you taste the difference. This will be a favorite of mine from now on.

  22. laura @ a little barefoot

    oh i *love* romesco sauce. i’ve never made it though! slathered all over the shrimp it looks absolutely incredible. yum.

  23. Caroline

    Sounds like Muhammara, except Muhammara uses walnuts and I don’t think I’ve ever seen tomatoes in it.

  24. joyce suri

    For knittam: I would suggest (for nut allergies) substituting some kind of seeds,such as pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, etc. If seeds are also problematical, consider garbanzo beans, or white beans – actually, any type of bean will do.

    HUGS, Joyce

  25. Jen

    One of the best things I’ve ever eaten in a restaurant was romesco sauce over a really simple parmesan risotto…I think I will have to recreate it!

  26. Jill Silverman Hough

    I, too, am in love with romesco sauce – very appropriate that you posted about it on Valentine’s Day! I like it best with grilled or roasted salmon and potatoes – but I also love it as a pizza sauce.

    Belated birthday wishes!

  27. MrBlonde

    This sauce is awesome!!! As some has pointed out before, this sauce is tipically used for dipping calçots*. Both are typical only from Catalonia, a region in the North-East of Spain, so don’t expect it anywhere else. Every region in Spain has its own typical dishes, so it might be a bit inaccurate to talk about “Spanish cuisine”. Probably he only dish that is typical from every region is the “tortilla de patata”, the potato omelette.

    * A kind of onion: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cal%C3%A7ot

  28. Cindy Love

    I had a gift certificate recently for Williams Sonoma. They carry something called Catalyn Sauce, which is very similar to this recipe and to die for! My daughter lives in Spain so this was a treat. Try it!!Now i will try your recipe.

  29. Jerrbear

    Try adding some roasted tomatoes for an even better flavor ;-) Just stick them in the oven at 450F (coated in a little olive oil and S&P) until the skins fall off easily and they shrink a bit. You’ll know when they’re done because they’ll taste AWESOME!

  30. YorkshireSteveinHampshire

    The great Simon Hopkinson in his recent “The Vegetarian Option” has a wonderful recipe of cheese encrusted parsnips with the great Romesco sauce and no foodie should be without that heavenly combination. Think of the sweetly struck shots of Sir Len Hutton married to the robust manliness of Brian Close. Those from God’s County will know which cricketer represents each of the food categories.

  31. Summer Foster

    When I saw triple OMG’s on your comments, I thought to myself, this has to be good! And it is. I ran across this recipe this morning before heading out to work, and stopped at the store on my way home to pick up the ingredients. It is wonderful! Mine seemed to make a little more than the recipe indicated, but that’s OK, I just threw it in the freezer for a later date! Thanks…..I LOVE your recipes!!

  32. Katie @ The Well-Fed Newlyweds

    This looks delicious! I think I will try it over slices of baked polenta, on top of grilled chicken, smeared on toasted bread… Thanks for a great recipe!

  33. Saskia

    I made this, had one bite and exclaimed ‘OMG!!’ Simply delish! The only thing I added instead of the smoked paprika were 4 pasilla chiles which added a smoky spiciness. Yum yum! Easy to make so it will become a staple in my kitchen. I may try roasted tomatoes the next time as suggested above.

  34. Xanthippe

    So glad to know you’ve discovered Romesco Sauce, Elise. The versatility of this lovely orange-red sauce is only exceeded by its deliciousness; I’ve been making it for years using a version culled from several different sources. Try some spread on slices of crusty, grilled bread (or sandwich sized pieces of focaccia), then layered with roasted bell peppers, grilled summer squash and caramelized onions for a stellar sandwich. There’s precious little Romesco doesn’t enhance!

  35. June

    It is fabulous isn’t it and great with gnocchi too.

  36. John DM

    I may have been to liberal with the red wine vinegar; the taste is a little sharper than expected. perhaps a touch of sugar to help? Supper is still a couple of hours away.

    I usually find that sugar can help balance out too much acidity. ~Elise

  37. 00hmai0.0

    OK. Wow. OMG. If I knew it was this good, I would have made more. Thank you so much for posting. I can say it’s vegetarian!!! Yea. I just toss in some pasta and tomatoes, yellow squash and bell peppers…yummy!

  38. Eunice Kim

    I’m a fellow Sacramentan who’s been following along and cooking along for a while, but never commented yet. I just tried this and it’s SOOO good that I had to write about it. I used it with some ravioli, but it was hard to not eat it all before dinner.

  39. Lucinda

    When tossing this over pasta can you add cream?

    Sounds like a good idea to me. ~Elise

  40. Amy

    I made this two nights ago: I didn’t have almonds, so I used the hazelnuts I had. Also, I had a crusty pumpernickel bread, which I used in place of the regular plain bread that the recipe calls for. This still came out delicious- super yummy. I put it on top of some thick pita bread with a little parmesan, and then put that on top of some spinach tossed in olive oil. Delish!

  41. Leah

    I am totally with you on this one. I last discovered Romesco last spring, and I hardly posted anything for a while after that because ALL I was eating was Romesco–on everything. That’s only a little bit of an exaggeration; I might have actually made one or two things that didn’t contain Romesco.
    I’ve actually been craving this lately. I think it’s time to make some more.
    This sauce also freezes really well, like pesto. You can make a huge batch and freeze it in little portions, and they defrost quickly when you’re in the mood for some Romesco.

  42. Allegra

    I made this tonight and plan on tossing it with pasta topped with shrimp and chicken. I can’t believe how simple this recipe was to make given the sublime results that I achieved. Thanks so much for the recipe.

  43. Beth

    I love Romesco and it’s great on a sandwich with a good baguette, a soft, creamy cheese of some kind (I use locally sourced “Delice de la Valle” here in Sonoma), smoked turkey and some baby greens. DELISH! It it my new favorite condiment.

  44. Bizzle

    Oh yeah. This is fabulous. I made it with walnuts because that’s what I had. Yummy goodness. Can’t wait to try the recipe as written. The extra step of roasting the sauce makes it over the top.

  45. Marie

    Has anyone made a gluten ree version of this sauce? I thought substituting chickpeas for the breadcrumbs may work. I’d appreciate feedback!

  46. Anna

    Thanks for the recipe, I adore your site!! Tossed this with fresh Meyer lemon pasta….mmmm. Also, we’ve been loving it in our scrambled eggs for breakfast. So good!

  47. Conrad lewandowski

    I loved this recipe.I used sweet paprika and was very good.I must try it with smoked paprika.Thank you so much for this recipe.

  48. Fiona

    To drain or not to drain the jar of roasted red peppers? Recipe was so full of liquid that it was ‘pour’ rather than ‘spread’ into rimmed sheet…which just meant that I baked it (way) longer than what’s listed. Final result was most certainly delicious though!

    Oh my, drained. I’ve made the clarification. The jars of peppers I buy typically are well packed and don’t have a lot of extra oil in them. ~Elise

  49. Food Night

    I don’t have enough superlatives for this recipe. And I don’t know what this stuff wouldn’t be good on (except possibly ice cream). GREAT recipe.

  50. Linda

    Oh, Elise, I’m sorry, this is not good. THIS IS EXCELLENT. OMG, indeed, it is incredible. The depth of flavors is fantastic to the taste buds. I put this together in ten minutes flat this morning, and it is in the oven as I type. I followed your directions completely (I got the recipe before the comment saying to drain the red peppers; I didn’t drain them, and I think that oil added even more flavor). So very wonderful. Doesn’t this scream to become a soup, too????? Thank you, as always, for making my cooking experience so interesting.

  51. RPH_TheBaker

    Thank you very much for this wonderful recipe. I was lazy and directly used raw almonds (unblanched and whole). Also, the jar of roasted peppers wouldn’t open, but fortunately I was planning on roasting red peppers in the oven at the same time. So I just did the peppers first and used them. I wasn’t sure how many to use for the 8 oz (with liquid) measure. I used 2.5 biggish ones. What would the right quantity be?
    We had the sauce (slightly thinned with water) this evening as a spread (with some sauteed mushrooms and spinach) for savory crepes and I thought it was wonderful. I am going to try it with crumbled, slightly sauteed tofu with crepes in a day or two.
    Thank you once again. I see myself making this often.

  52. Emma

    Ooh I do love Romesco sauce and am constantly amazed that it’s not more well-known like its Italian cousin pesto. I like to add some extra hot diced chillis to mine, and serve it with chilled wedges of melon & parma ham for a spicy twist on a retro classic!

  53. Mom in a Box

    Oh, my! Delicious and easy. This will be a new staple in my refrigerator. Thanks for another great recipe.

  54. Noelle

    Wow! This is amazing! I can’t believe how delicious this sauce is, yum!!
    I made a slight change that was accidental but i couldn’t imagine it any other way… I thought I had roasted red peppers but I actually had hot, sweet piquante peppers (small, round, red peppers in a jar). Not super spicy but had a little heat. I think they complimented the dish wonderfully!
    thanks for this great recipe!

  55. Heather

    I’m not sure what I did but I wasn’t wowed…..I was expecting something really great and mine just didn’t work for me. Maybe I’ll try it again one day.

  56. susan

    FYI Italian Romanesco Sauce has anchovies in it, whereas this one doesn’t. The Italian one is to die for. Maybe I’ll add anchovies, heh?

  57. Patricia

    I make your romescu recipe every week, and if it was up to my husband even more often. He’s from Barcelona and when I tried it first he liked it but he said it was not the same. I kept making it until I got the hang of it and now is a must on our table. All of my friends have asked for the recipe every time I take it to a party. And now even my mother in law, who is also from Barcelona! THANK YOU!

  58. candace Jurado

    I am in love this version of romesco! I made your roasted chicken and carrots recipe for dinner and am using the left-over meat to make sandwiches slathered in romesco with provolone cheese, arugula, and avocado! Yum! Suzanne Goin also has a different version of this recipe in her cookbook Sunday Suppers At Luques in which Ancho chilies are used in place of the roasted red peppers, she adds parsley and lemon juice, it makes a spicier version that is perfect on roasted potatoes and eggs! I will enjoy having both versions in my recipe quiver indefinitely!

  59. dana

    I love this recipe, and have made it many times, most recently yesterday, when I mixed it with whole wheat fusilli and some caramelized onions to bring to a party. Everyone really liked it – thanks again!

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