Romesco Sauce

Romesco Sauce

Romesco sauce is simply an almond, garlic, and roasted pepper-scented puree that hails from Catalan, in the northeastern part of Spain along the Mediterranean coast. It’s a classic. [Editor’s Note: A vegan classic.] You can spread it on grilled bread, use it as a dip for roasted or grilled vegetables, or eat it right from the spoon.–Kim O’Donnel

Author's Pick a Peppa' Note

Ancho chiles are dried poblanos, which will yield a sweeter, almost raisin-y Romesca sauce; fresh roasted poblanos will deliver more smoke. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the peppers listed in the ingredients below. If red bell peppers are all you have, this elixir, er sauce, will still make you swoon.

Romesco Sauce

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 20 M
  • 20 M
  • Makes about 2 cups
4/5 - 1 reviews
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In a skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Cut a 1-inch-thick slice from the loaf of bread, trim the crusts from the slice, and toss it in the skillet. Let it sizzle until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to a plate and let cool. Set the rest of the loaf aside.

In a food processor, pulse all of the bell and chile and hot peppers along with the garlic, nuts, and the fried bread slice. Pulse until combined but still chunky.

Add the tomatoes and pulse to combine. Then add the remaining oil and vinegar and pulse. The mixture will emulsify quickly. Add the salt, cayenne, and smoked paprika, if using. The romesco sauce should be thick but also have a slightly viscous quality. If it seems on the thick side, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water. Taste for salt and heat and acid and season accordingly. You can cover and refrigerate the romesco for up to 5 days. It just gets better and better with every day the flavors are allowed to meld.

Slice the remaining loaf of bread, allowing 1 to 2 pieces per person, and grill or toast until lightly browned. Serve with the romesco.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This smoky, spicy and garlicky sauce was fantastic with every item on our dinner plates: we smothered it on lamb chops, put dollops on roasted potatoes, and dipped grilled asparagus in it. Yes, there are quite a few ingredients, and there’s a lot of prep work involved for just two cups of sauce, but I did some online research and have good news for us all: romesco sauce keeps well in the freezer, for up to three months. Make a lot, and divvy it up for later use; it’s worth the trouble. In my own romesco, I used ancho chile peppers, a jalapeño pepper, hazelnuts, and smoked paprika.

Don’t ask any questions, just double the recipe! Oh, and have extra bread and spoons on-hand. This “elixir” is pure heaven—not only good as a dip, a spread, and straight from the spoon, but it’s wonderful on grilled fish or chicken, isn’t too bad on pasta, and you can even add a few spoonfuls to a pot of soup (your guests will wonder what the secret ingredient is). I feel that canned tomatoes work better than fresh, simply because of the uniformity you get with canned. Make the romesco a little thick to begin with; you can always thin it later if necessary. When working with hot peppers, garlic and paprika, I like to follow the recipe exactly at first to get an idea of the level of spice or heat. I’d suggest using the jalapeño with the cayenne, unless you like more heat. The red wine vinegar is better with the smoky sweetness of the peppers.

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  1. On home ground, in Catalonia, Spain, ROMESCO would have only the tiniest bit of hot chile. It’s made with dry bittersweet peppers called ñoras, the same peppers used to make pimentón (unsmoked paprika). When I don’t want to bother with soaking and scraping pulp from ñoras, I make the sauce with 2 or more tablespoons of pimentón. As editor notes, it’s a great dip or sauce for grilled vegetables or shrimp. Also, a cook-in sauce for chicken or fish.

    1. Janet, do you have a recipe that I could try? I like the idea of just the tiniest bit of hot chile. I would love to try your version.

      Many thanks,


      1. Karen: This is the version of Romesco from my book Tapas: A Bite of Spain. More about this Catalan sauce on recent blog post.

        Catalan Red Pepper Sauce
        Makes 1 ¼ cups

        2 tablespoons pimentón (paprika, not smoked)
        4 tablespoons red wine
        2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
        12 skinned almonds
        12 skinned hazelnuts
        1 slice bread, crusts removed, or 3 María cookies
        3 cloves garlic
        Pinch of dried mint
        2 tablespoons wine vinegar
        Pinch crushed red chile flakes
        Water or fish stock (about ¼ cup)

        Stir the pimentón and red wine together to make a paste.

        In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil and fry the almonds, hazelnuts, bread and garlic until bread is toasted. Remove and transfer them to a blender or food processor with the pimentón paste, mint, vinegar, chile and salt. Blend to a smooth paste. Gradually blend in the remaining oil. Add enough water to thin the sauce to the consistency of thick cream.

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