Romesco sauce: rustic Mediterranean recipe
The Mediterranean allure is undeniable, from its deep blue and transparent waters to enchanting towns full of life, this unique lifestyle has been shown to be healthy. Most of its benefits are associated to the diet, based on the the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, the nutrition guide that was developed by the Oldways Preservation Trust, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the World Health Organization in 1993.
Coming originally from Tarragona – this is one of the four counties of Catalonia and located south western Barcelona – romesco sauce is one of the best-known Catalan contributions to the culinary scene and the Mediterranean foods.
A thick sauce of marine origin dating back the early 20th century; although it is now used in various dishes, its origin was the romescada, a traditional seafood stew made in the fishing district of Tarragona, Serrallo, in which a series of fish and shellfish were cooked and accompanied with this sauce made with ingredients that were closed at hand in the area such as almonds, olive oil, bread and special red peppers.
What is the base of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid?
Good news: it is simple and inexpensive as it is based on a heart-healthy eating plan that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats such as our beloved extra virgin olive oil. And romesco sauce meets all the requirements, check the recipe we propose and you will see the vegan dressing can take your dishes to another level and transform your dinners.
How to make romesco sauce
There is no a single way to make romesco, this is our personal recipe, but of course feel free to adapt it to your own style to suit your taste, mor or less vinegar, a hot touch, substitute the ñoras by smoked paprika, you are the chef.
- 1 head of garlic (unpeeled)
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/2 cup toasted almonds (peeled)
- 1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts (peeled)
- 4 to 5 tomatoes
- 2 ñoras (dried sweet chili peppers grown in Spain)
- 1 slice of stale bread
- Sherry or white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Fine sea salt
Soak the chilies (ñoras) in warm water for about 15 minutes, until they soften, then scrape off the interior flesh and discard the skins.
Soak the slice of bread in vinegar.
In the meantime, roast the tomatoes and the head of garlic for about 25-30 minutes at 356º F.
Then, peel the tomatoes and the roasted garlic, add them to a food processor. Add the rest of ingredients: salt, bread, ñoras, almonds and hazelnuts (they will give a breadcrumb-like consistency) and the garlic glove. As you process, slowly add the olive oil until you get a smooth consistency. Try it and add more salt to taste if needed.
The final result should be like in the picture, a rough texture sauce.
This is a sauce to be made at home, there are no good commercial options like for mayo. So make a good quantity, cover and chill, it keeps for weeks in the refrigerator and you will flavor-boost any dinner.
Some ideas: we love romesco sauce with any grilled vegetables – we roasted leeks and artichokes (see photo above) but with asparagus, broccoli and baked potatoes it is goes so well, and served with salt cod fish in a popular fresh Catalan salad called xatonada. But romesco goes great with any grilled fish or meat too! We’re thinking of making a pork sandwich with romesco! Remember you don’t need to be in Tarragona to sample it. when you visit Barcelona get a chance to order some delicious romesco as a side with some patates al caliu (roasted potatoes) and if you go between January and March then don’t leave without trying calçots with romesco; those se half leeks, half spring onions are tender and sweet and are grilled directly over the flames, and served on one of the traditional earthenware roof tiles that are to be found in homes all over Catalonia.