Romesco Sauce

Romesco Sauce

This classic Spanish sauce is a melange of roasted tomatoes and peppers, olive oil, roasted hazelnuts and fried bread. It compliments many foods, including grilled shell fish and halibut, lamb, pasta, and even a simple offering of toasted bread (as a dipping sauce). It keeps for at least 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Enjoy! Jan Roberts-Dominguez

Makes about 3 cups

  • About 2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound of Roma tomatoes (4 medium-sized)
  • 1 red sweet bell pepper (see note)
  • 2 (1-inch thick) slices of an Italian-style bread (measuring approximately 6 x 3-inches in diameter), such as Ciabatta or Pugliese
  • 1 cup roasted and skinned hazelnuts
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper (McCormick sells one in the spice aisle)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup red wine or sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Hot water, if needed
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Pool one tablespoon of olive oil on a baking sheet and place it in the oven while it is preheating.  Halve the tomatoes lengthwise, cut out the core from each half. When the oven is hot, remove the baking sheet from the oven and  place the tomato halves in the oil, cut-side up. Coat the surface of each tomato half with a bit more oil, which will help with browning. Cook for about 15 minutes, then turn the tomatoes over, cut-side down and continue roasting  until the tomato skins begin to darken, crack, and pull away from the flesh. Remove from oven and set aside until they’re cool enough to handle.
  3. Pierce the pepper in several places with a sharp knife to avoid bursting, then place it on the baking sheet. Place the pepper under a broiler and broil, turning several times, until it has blackened over most of its surface. Alternatively, you could blacken the pepper over a gas flame on your stove top, or in a grill.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet (you can use a non-stick skillet, but it won’t impart quite as much toasted flavor to the bread). Fry the bread until golden brown and crisp on both sides. Remove from skillet and let cool.
  5. Pluck the peel and core from the cooled tomatoes, reserving the juices. Place the flesh and juice in the food processor. Peel, core and seed the  pepper, reserving the juice. Place the flesh and juice in the food processor. Add the bread, toasted hazelnuts, garlic, red pepper flakes, paprika, ground chipotle chile pepper, salt, and black pepper. Process until smooth (it will have a somewhat grainy appearance because of the nuts).
  6. With the machine running, add the vinegar. Let the motor run for a moment then stop it and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn the motor back on and add the 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil in a slow, steady, very thin stream. The sauce will thicken slightly and hold together in a rich, rusty-colored orange/red. If the sauce seems too thick (it should have a soft pesto consistency), then with the machine running, drizzle in some hot water.
  7. Taste and make sure the sauce has plenty of piquancy and enough salt. If desired, with the machine running, add additional vinegar and salt. Romesco sauce can be prepared and refrigerated for at least a week (I’ve even used batches of it at the end of 2 weeks). Bring to room temperature before using.

Note on roasted red peppers: If you want to trim a bit of labor from the project, you could use a store-bought roasted and peeled red pepper if you determine the quality is recipe-worthy. I’ve done just that and been satisfied with the results. Tassos makes a delicious fire roasted Florinas Peppers. They come packed in a lovely oval-shaped jar and are in a light vinegar solution that contributes to the flavor of the sauce.

More uses for your romesco sauce: Serve over grilled lamb, fish and vegetables, or in a bowl alongside bread and roasted spring onions. Also delicious as a sandwich spread or a dipping sauce for asparagus. Stir it into seafood stews and vegetable soups.

Copyright, 2010, Jan Roberts-Dominguez, “Oregon Hazelnut Country - the Food, the Drink, the Spirit.”


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