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Romesco Sauce

Romesco Sauce - photo courtesy of wikipedia

Tour leader Joan Escosura shares this recipe for Romesco Sauce which is a specialty of  the Catalonia region of Spain where he lives (and leads bicycle tours!) Joan also wisely points out that giving a recipe for a sauce is even better than a regular dish because it has so many more uses and possibilities.

This classic recipe from the Catalonia region of Northeastern Spain is vibrant and has just enough zing to keep things interesting. It is believed that it was first used as a sauce for fish, but can just as easily (and deliciously) be served with grilled chicken, burgers, pasta, a spread for bread, or as a dip. The rich, creamy combination of blended roasted red peppers, garlic, and tomatoes along with toasted nuts will inspire you to find more uses for this versatile recipe. The flavors get better after a day or two so feel free to make it in advance or plan for leftovers. Store up to a week in the fridge.


  • 4 medium-size ripe tomatoes (1-3/4 lb. total), cored
  • 1 head garlic, sliced in half crosswise
  • 2 Tbs. plus 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/2 oz. (1/4 cup) blanched almonds
  • 1-1/4 oz. (1/4 cup) peeled hazelnuts
  • 1 dried chili pepper – Serrano, Fresno or Ancho will all work – seeded, slit, and opened so it lies fairly flat
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt or sea salt; more to taste
  • 2 to 3 Tbs. red-wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. red wine (dry or fruity), if needed
  • 1 slice stale white bread, torn, if needed

Heat the oven to 375°F. Put the tomatoes and one half of the garlic head in a baking pan. Drizzle about 1 Tbs. of the olive oil into the cored tomato wells and on top of the garlic half. Roast until the tomatoes and garlic are well caramelized but not burnt, about 90 minutes. Take the remaining half head of garlic and coarsely chop 1 Tbs. and put it in a food processor.

While the tomatoes roast, heat about 1 Tbs. of the olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Toast the blanched almonds and hazelnuts in the pan, shaking the pan or stirring so they don’t burn, until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Cool the nuts on a paper towel and then put them in the food processor with the garlic.

If using a dried chili, sear it in the same small pan over medium-high heat (keep it flat with a spatula or a fork) until a smoke wisp appears, about 10 seconds per side. Soak it in 1 cup hot tap water until soft, about 15 minutes. Drain and add the chili to the garlic and nuts in the food processor.

Pulse the toasted nuts, chile, and tomatoes to get the purée underway.

Add olive oil slowly to create an emulsified sauce, add vinegar, and then taste before making adjustments.

When the tomatoes and garlic are caramelized, let them cool. Pinch off the tomato skins (discard them) and squeeze out the garlic pulp. Add to the ingredients in the food processor. Add salt and while the mixture is blending, pour in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Add the vinegar, pulse to incorporate, and taste; the sauce should have some zing, so add more if needed. Add salt to taste.

Process the Romesco until it comes together as a sauce but not so much that you lose the coarse, nutty texture. The sauce should be thick and creamy. If it seems too thick, add 1 or 2 Tbs. red wine. If it’s too thin, add a bit of the stale bread, pulsing a few more times.

Recipe from Fine Cooking