The Best Romesco Sauce You’ve Ever Tasted
This delicious sauce amps up countless dishes
Romesco is a classic finishing and dipping sauce from Spain based on pimiento, roasted sweet red peppers. I first tasted it in the Catalonia region near Barcelona on a crystalline spring day in the 1970s on a grilled calcot, a fat green scallion. Several little villages have spring festivals centered around calcotada (plural of calcot) and romesco sauce, and restaurants in Barcelona often serve the dish.
The sauce is so versatile it is also used for other vegetables (it is especially good on broccoli, cauliflower, and grilled asparagus), chicken, beef, fish, and even snails. Below I have poured some on grill baked stuffed poblano peppers with rice and cheddar.
We will amp it up by fire roasting the ingredients on the grill.
Romesco sauce is a classic dipping and finishing sauce from Spain made with sweet red peppers, nuts, and olive oil. This flavorful romesco sauce recipe is so versatile that it can be used on countless dishes including grilled broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, chicken, beef, fish, and even snails. The amounts here make enough for 1 pound of asparagus or calcots.
Servings: 2 cups
About the almonds. If you wish, you can substitute pine nuts or hazelnuts for some of the almonds.
Optional. If you wish, especially if the final sauce is too thick and pasty, you can add a splash of anisette liqueur. Go easy.
Fire up. Preheat the grill for 2-zone cooking.
Prep. Slice the ancho in half, core and seed it. Then soak the ancho pieces in a small bowl of hot water until it softens, about 20 minutes. Drain and put it in a food processor or blender.
Meanwhile, slice the bell pepper in half, core and seed it. Skin and slice the onion in half, pole to pole so the root will hold the layers together.
Cook. On the direct heat zone, grill both the bell pepper and onion. Grill the onion on both sides until it darkens and softens, but does not turn black. Remove, cool, coarsely chop and add it to the processor with the ancho. Grill the pepper on both sides until it darkens and softens, but does not turn black. When done, place the pepper in a bowl and cover it with a plate so the steam will loosen the skins. Then peel the skin off, chop the meat coarsely and you should have about 1 cup more or less. If it is a lot less, grill some more. I usually grill more than I need, and store the extras in a zipper bag in the freezer. When you have about 1 cup, dump them into the food processor or blender.
If you have raw tomatoes, slice them in half, put them on the grill cut sides down and roast until they start to darken and shrivel but not blacken. Then flip them over and cook until the skins blacken. Let them cool, peel the skins (if you don't get them all off it's not a problem), coarsely chop, and dump into the food processor. If you are using canned tomatoes, they go straight into the processor.
Roast the garlic. You really only need 4 cloves but I usually do a whole head and freeze the extras. If you don't want to do a whole head, just lay 4 cloves on foil, coat lightly in oil, and put them on the grill for about 5 minutes on each side or until they brown. Then they go into the processor.
Lay the slice of bread on the heat and toast it on one side only. Don't let it burn. Chop it coarsely and toss the chunks into the processor.
Put 4 tablespoons of the oil in a frying pan, put it on medium heat, and add the almonds. When the almonds start to turn golden, add the paprika, chipotle, salt, and pepper. Stir, and after about a minute, remove from the heat, add the vinegar to help loosen the goop in the pan and dump into the processor. Add a tablespoon or two of water to the pan if you wish in order to get as much of that flavor out of the pan as possible, and that goes into the processor.
Puree. Add the remaining oil and lime juice to the processor, and whup it until it is pureed, about 2 minutes. It will never get really smooth. It should be thinner than a pesto, but not runny. If needed, add water to thin it. Taste and adjust the salt, pepper, chipotle, vinegar, and lime juice if you wish.
Serve. You can pour it in a serving bowl and serve warm or spoon a dollop or 3 on each serving or refrigerate for several days.
Published On: 8/25/2013
Last Modified: 4/16/2021
Meathead - Founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, Meathead is known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.