Sure that’s a big, bold statement. It’s huge. It’s epic. How can a sauce be that good? Oh, it can be, my friends.
I am here to declare that Romesco is the best sauce ever. If you’ve never heard of it, bear with me, or get yourself to Spain, stat.
Romesco is a mixture of roasted red peppers, toasted bread, toasted nuts, chiles, parsley, olive oil, garlic, and sherry vinegar. It is creamy and spicy and even a little bit sweet. Romesco is not shy. It does not sit on the bleachers at the school dance. It’s out on the dance flooring shaking and twirling.
I can say it is my favorite sauce ever because since being introduced to it in 1995 at Jaleo restaurant in Washington, DC, my love for it has never wavered. Sure, I can eat it the traditional way with patatas bravas, but I also enjoy it with grilled chicken, roasted squashes, or even tortilla chips.
Why Romesco is largely unknown in the U.S. is peculiarto me. If you want to surprise people at your next dinner party or spice up a weekend meal, it is a colorful and delicious accompaniment.
Traditionally, Romesco is a bit time consuming. Traditional recipes call for toasting a piece of bread and roasting a tomato or two. They also call for hazelnuts, roasted, with skins rubbed off. I have messed with the recipe a bit to suit my lifestyle. I have made it weeknight friendly so you will not be scraping nut skins off with a towel, cursing my name, and wondering why you thought this was a good idea. I’ve also eliminated the toasted bread as gluten and I are not friends. If you would like to follow a more traditional recipe, a great source is the book Catalan Cuisine: Europe’s Last Great Culinary Secret by Colman Andrews.
More than that, though, Romesco is a forgiving sauce. Once you have made the recipe a couple of times, you can alter the heat of it, highlight the tomatoes, and augment the garlic profile if that suits. It actually took a lot of effort for me to write down the recipe and amounts because now I just throw everything in the food processor, eyeballing amounts, and adjusting as I go.
This recipe does make a lot of sauce. However, it will keep in the refrigerator for a week and can be used as a sandwich spread, a dip, or whatever uses your imagination creates.
It is gluten free, soy free, and dairy free. It's vegan. It's been known to cause joy and ooohs and ahhhs!
Allergy notes: contains almonds, a tree nut and known allergen. Also contains nightshade vegetables (tomatoes and red peppers) that some people find hard to digest.
Gluten Free Romesco Sauce
Yield: ~ 3 cups
1 12 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained
4 ½ ounces slivered almonds, toasted
1 jalapeno, stemmed and seeded, roughly chopped
(leave the stems if you prefer a lot of heat)
1/3 cup tomato paste
2 – 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped (use an amount to suit your tastes)
1/3 cup fresh parsley, washed, dried, and roughly chopped
1 small shallot, roughly chopped (optional)
1 T sherry vinegar
1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (amount depends on how thick you want the sauce)
Salt, to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Throw the first eight ingredients in a food processor and pulse until roughly pureed. Pour olive oil into measuring cup until it reaches the 1/2 cup mark. Through the feed tube, add 1/3 cup of olive oil and blend for one full minute. Stop. Scrape down food processor. Blend 30 seconds more. Taste. If it is too thick, add a little more of the olive oil, until you have reached your desired thickness. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Taste. Does it need brightness? Add a teaspoon more of the sherry vinegar. Add salt to taste, starting in 1/8 teaspoon increments. Blend well after each addition. If you desire more spiciness, add a pinch or two of cayenne pepper.
Scrape into a lovely bowl and serve. Goes beautifully with grilled meats and poultry, grilled vegetables, roasted potatoes, and even tortilla chips. Can be used as sandwich spread.
Store in the refrigerator, covered, for up to one week.