If you never tried this fantastic and easy recipe, you should asap! It has roasted tomatoes, red peppers, almonds, and a few other ingredients. It comes together quickly and is truly a versatile sauce, good for pasta, sandwiches, as a dip, over fish, chicken, and more. It ranks among my favorite sauces. I make a large batch and eat it every single day until it's gone.
What is Spanish Romesco sauce?
It's a tomato-based sauce originating in Spain. There are several versions, and, similar to gazpacho, some have bread and some don't.
I was taught this recipe by a Spanish woman who wouldn't even think of not adding bread, so I'm following her lead.
After experimenting a bit, I find that the romesco sauce with bread is unique and superior to the one without in my opinion.
- Red bell peppers: sometimes, I roast all ingredients together, and that's it. I also use jarred or roasted bell peppers (I buy Spanish piquillo peppers online). They're a time saver and delicious. I usually have tomatoes and garlic in the house that I can roast, but not red bell peppers.
- Bread: white bread, such as baguette or other crusty bread, is the best. You don't use the crust, but their crumb is denser and with good flavor. That said, you can even use white sandwich bread.
- Almonds: you can buy already-skinned almonds. Since I almost always have whole almonds at home, I take the time to peel them, which I don't usually do for other recipes. But for this one, I do like it because it adds a creamier texture. But you can use whole almonds, absolutely! After all, it's meant to be an easy romesco sauce recipe.
- Garlic: roasting it before is a game-changer. So much flavor without the acrid undertone.
- Olive oil: it's an oil-based sauce, so buy the best extra virgin olive oil you can afford.
- Spicy peppers: I like dishes that are not overly spicy, especially sauces like this one because I want the rest of the flavors to shine. Medium heat is good for me. But hey, be my guest if you're in the high-heat area regarding spiciness.
Roasting the vegetables
This method is the best because it concentrates the flavor and adds an amazing natural caramelized flavor.
Combine tomatoes, red peppers, and cloves on a piece of foil and season to taste.
Bake them in a medium oven until charred, wrinkled, and maybe slightly burnt here and there.
How to skin almonds
It's very easy, simply cover almonds with boiling water, let them stand for a few minutes and then slip off the skins with your fingers. They will have separated from the meaty almond.
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How to make romesco sauce
One of the best things about this rich Spanish sauce is that it uses simple ingredients. I'm a firm believer in this romesco recipe as written. It's so delicious, there's no need to make changes.
But, what might be up for debate are the proportions of some ingredients and you can adjust to your taste.
After several tries with different combinations, I like it exactly as it is on the recipe card. But feel free to adjust. Maybe you want a lot of garlic, more tomatoes, or more oil. Your call.
Mixing: you need an immersion blender, my first choice, or a food processor, my second choice, for this sauce.
A blender would work also, but the sauce is thick, take that into account. I, personally, find it annoying to take out the mixture that is at the bottom of the jar, so I rather use one of the other options.
Put all ingredients in a jar, a bowl, or the bowl of a food processor. Add some olive oil and start to process.
Add the rest of the oil in a thin stream and keep processing until it's as smooth and thick as you want.
Vintage Kitchen tip: you might want a thinner sauce, and I recommend adding a few teaspoons of water instead of more oil. So it doesn't get too heavy.
- The best way is to keep it in a glass jar with a tight lid and with a thin layer of olive oil on top. It will prevent air from getting into the sauce and ruining it much faster.
- It keeps well for a week or two in the refrigerator. But really, I've had it more than that. And you can freeze it for a few months.
Romesco sauce uses
- Grilled and roasted meat: this is a tomato and red pepper-based sauce, so it's especially fantastic with fish and grilled chicken.
- Pasta: one of my favorite sauces ever for any pasta especially fusilli, penne, and spaghetti.
- Sandwich spread: spread a thin layer instead of other condiments in chicken, meat, and roasted veggie sandwiches.
- Romesco dip: serve it as part of an appetizer plate or cheese board with olive oil crackers, pita chips, or crudites. With potato wedges, like in the image below. Bake the potatoes as directed in the Parmesan Baked Potatoes recipe, then dip them in the homemade tomato sauce at room temperature.
- Organization: always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!
- Vegetables: you can roast the vegetables a week ahead and keep in a jar with olive oil and a tight lid. Don't drain them and make sure to add less oil when making the sauce.
- Almonds: you can skin them several days before, dry them in a very low oven (don't let them toast, only dry out so they don't become soggy), and keep them in a jar with a tight lid. You can also lightly toast them, either in a large skillet at very low heat stirring them constantly, or on a rimmed baking sheet in a medium oven. Be careful not to burn them! Some recipes call for pine nuts also, instead of almonds or in addition. They work very well with the rest of the ingredients.
- Garlic: you can roast it beforehand and keep it in the refrigerator. And, you might want the addition of raw garlic for a sharper flavor. I don't usually do it, but I know a friend who does, so know that it's an option.
- Tomato paste: some like to add a tiny bit of concentrated tomato paste for an extra boost of flavor.
- Red pepper flakes: another way to add spice is with red pepper flakes or any other dried chile, ground, or in flakes. Chile powder or Merken (smoked paprika from Chile) also works if you want to add some heat.
- Red wine vinegar: a teaspoon or two is a good addition to this sauce as it adds some acid.
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- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup bread cubes, no crust
- 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- ½ cup almonds, whole or peeled (skinned)
- Ground cumin, coriander, and black pepper, to taste
- 1 large tomato
- ½ cup roasted red peppers (homemade or store-bought) see Notes, below
- Fresh chili, jalapeno type or in adobo (optional)
- Salt to taste
- Turn on the oven at 350°F/180ºC.
- Put a piece of aluminum foil over a baking dish.
- Arrange the vegetables and bread with the tomato cut into quarters. And red peppers in chunks if not using from a jar. If you separate them in rows it's easier to remove as they are done.
- Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and cook until each ingredient is done, about 10 minutes for the bread (which is golden but not burned), half an hour for the garlic, and a little more for the tomato and peppers until they are charred and juices flow. Don't throw away the juice that collects in the bottom!
- Peel the almonds if you want: put them in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave 5-10 and peel them. The skin comes off easy, like chickpeas. If it still won't come off, drain the water and add boiling water and repeat the process again. Dry them with a cloth, chop them just like that and reserve.
- Put all the ingredients (except oil) in the jar of the immersion blender: tomato with the juice that was released, garlic, bread, almonds, drained peppers, hot chili if using, salt, coriander, ground cumin, and pepper.
- Add a little oil until you can begin to process, and add more little by little, until it thickens.
- You can also thin it a bit with a few teaspoons of water if you want a more fluid sauce.
- Store in a glass jar with a thin layer of olive oil on top. It lasts a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.
always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!
Vegetables: you can roast the vegetables a week ahead and keep in a jar with olive oil and a tight lid. Don't drain them and make sure to add less oil when making the sauce.
Almonds: you can skin them several days before, dry them in a very low oven (don't let them toast, only dry out so they don't become soggy), and keep them in a jar with a tight lid. Some recipes call for pine nuts also, instead of almonds or in addition to. They work very well with the rest of the ingredients.
Garlic: you can roast it before hand and keep it in the refrigerator. And, you might want the addition of raw garlic for a sharper flavor. I don't usually do it, but I know a friend who does, so know that it's an option.
Tomato paste: some like to add a tiny bit of concentrated tomato paste for an extra boost of flavor.
Red pepper flakes: another way to add spice is with red pepper flakes.
Red wine vinegar: a teaspoon or two is a good addition to this sauce as it adds some acid.
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 40
- Category: Dips & Condiments
- Method: Baking + Mixing
- Cuisine: International
Keywords: romesco sauce