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.

Spanish Romesco Sauce Recipe

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

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.

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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.

Showing 4 of 59 Comments

  • Ella

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

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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….

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