Dish of the Week: Goes-With-Anything Romesco Sauce

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we’re covering the classic Romesco sauce.

An all-purpose sauce from Catalonia, romesco is made with toasted nuts — usually almonds or hazelnuts — and red peppers, garlic, olive oil and spices. The sauce is rich, rust-hued and thick — with a texture resembling more that of a chutney or hummus than a typical sauce. Bread or flour can also be incorporated, making the sauce even thicker; while other ingredients can include roasted tomatoes, onions, dried chiles, red wine vinegar, fennel and mint.

Originating in Tarragona — a port city in the Catalonian region of northern Spain — it is said that local fisherman created the sauce to accompany fish. And while it certainly complements seafood, this put-it-on-everything sauce is beyond versatile.

Smooth it onto spiced, roasted chicken; use it as a flavor base for stews; toss it with pasta and fresh herbs; use it as a dip for crudités or fried veggies; or just slather it onto a warm rustic loaf. 

This recipe, from Serious Eats, incorporates roasted almonds, charred bell peppers, tomatoes and bread. It's great as is, but also makes a perfect starting point for incorporating your favorite flavors. Add fresh herbs for brightness or dried chile peppers for heat. 

Romesco Sauce 

1 1-inch thick slice of crusty bread, crust removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large tomato
5 cloves garlic
1/2 cup almonds
2 medium red bell peppers
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Preheat oven to 375°F.

Line a baking pan with aluminum foil. Place almonds, garlic cloves, bread and the tomato on baking sheet and place in the oven. Roast almonds until fragrant and bread is crusty and just starting to brown, about ten minutes. Remove almonds and bread and continue roasting garlic until soft and tomato until tender, about 20 minutes more. Remove from oven, let cool slightly and remove skin from tomato and peel garlic.

While other ingredients are roasting in the oven, roast peppers over an open flame on a gas stove or grill until the skins are blackened. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes. Remove charred skin, seeds, and cores.
*We suggest the real thing, but if you'd like a shortcut, store-bought roasted red peppers would work here as well. You may need a bit less olive oil in the next step since they often come packed in oil.

Place bread, tomato, almonds, peppers, olive oil, vinegar, paprika, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Purée until smooth. Taste and season with additional salt and cayenne pepper as needed.

Place in an airtight container in the refrigerator until cool. Store refrigerated up to five days.

Serve with roasted chicken, grilled steaks, broiled fish and more.

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Brooke Viggiano is a contributing writer who is always looking to share Houston's coolest and tastiest happenings with the Houston Press readers.
Contact: Brooke Viggiano