While working at a family-owned Spanish Tapas Restaurant, I was introduced to Patas Bravas with Romesco Sauce. The husband-and-wife owners met studying culinary arts in San Sebastian. The food was magical and the staff was great. There were a lot of jokes made by the clientele about Tapas Bar sounding like Topless Bar.
What is this delicious Romesco Sauce?
Romesco sauce is a vibrant red sauce of roasted red peppers, tomatoes, almonds, sherry vinegar, salt, garlic, smoked paprika, and bread. The texture varies depending on who makes it. I like a more rustic texture, like a bright red pesto. I make it in the food processor, it can be creamier if you make it in a high-speed blender.
Using fire-roasted red peppers, fire-roasted tomatoes and smoked paprika give this sauce its marvelous roast-y flavor. You can use unsalted toasted almonds (or toast your almonds in a pan or the oven) for more toasty flavor. Also, you can toast your bread to amp up toasty-ness. Traditional Romesco involves roasting the veggies over a wood fire, this recipe uses the shortcut of using pre-fire-roasted veggies.
Is it hot?
Authentic Spanish food, in general, is not spicy in terms of heat spice. It is not burn-your-mouth-hole spice. It’s flavorful, but not hot. Sometimes, at the tapas restaurant, our customers would ask (going down the menu one item at a time): Is the paella really spicy or hot? What about the gazpacho? This was typically after they’d asked if we serve really good margaritas. I never knew quite how to tell these customers that Spain and Mexico are not the same place.
Authentic Romesco Sauce is not hot. However, some people add cayenne pepper to it, which might be nice if you want a non-traditional kick to your sauce.
Spanish Romesco Sauce is fabulous with:
- Fried potatoes, home fries or baked potato wedges
- These Marinated Oven Kebabs or any plate of grilled veggies
- Roasted broccoli
- Bread to make sure to get any Romesco sauce that was left on your plate
- Veggie wraps and power salad bowls
This time, I used these peppers, purchased from Natural Grocers for far less $ than Amazon presently has them priced. I look for water-packed, not oil-packed 16 oz, 12 oz dry weight, fire-roasted with large peppers in the jar. Bigger peppers equal bigger flavor and better quality. You can roast and peel your own peppers as well.
I recommend fire-roasted tomatoes. Usually, tomatoes in the can don’t have the skins. The skins have often been steam removed. I recommend tomatoes without skins. No need to drain the tomatoes. If you use no salt added tomatoes, you may want to adjust the salt up after tasting your sauce.
I always use and recommend smoked paprika for this sauce, over sweet paprika.
This time, I used slivered almonds. Using other almonds toasted or not, as long as they are not salted, also work well. If you can get Spanish Marcona Almonds without oil and salt, this would be very Spanish and very yummy.
Whatever bread you want, and you can toast it. This time, I used wheat bread from the bakery at Whole Foods. I’ve also made it with one bagel in place of 2 slices of bread. For gluten-free, use gluten-free bread.
This recipe is quick, easy and full of flavor
To make a half batch, just hover over the quantities in the recipe box and move the bar down to 8 servings, the only quantity that looks weird is the oil which is supposed to be 1/8 cup for a half batch. Since this freezes so nicely and I love it so much I am happy to have the 8 cups of sauce it makes. Also, you may have leftover peppers if you make half the recipe, yum!
Let’s Make Romesco Sauce
Get your large food processor ready, or if you are a high-speed blender person and/or you want more creamy, less rustic romesco, get your blender out.
Then add the olive oil, garlic, bread slices, smoked paprika, slivered almonds, drained red peppers (water-packed, not oil-packed), sherry vinegar, salt and two 15 oz cans of fire-roasted tomatoes and salt in the food processor. Then blend/process until it reaches your desired texture. Add more salt if desired.
Romesco sauce can be enjoyed hot, room temperature or even out of the fridge. Also, it freezes well to be enjoyed later. I tend to like it room temperature. I could drink it. Occasionally, I just eat it in the kitchen straight, with a spoon.
Spanish Romesco Sauce
- 10 cup food processor or high speed belender
- 16 oz jar roasted red peppers (water-packed) 12 oz dry weight, drained
- 2 cans of fire-roasted tomatoes (around 15 oz each) do not drain, you want the juice, also you want skinless tomatoes, most canned tomatoes have had the skins steamed off.
- 1 cup slivered almonds or other almonds not salted, toasted works. If you can get Spanish Marcona Almonds without oil and salt, it would be very Spanish.
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 TBSP minced garlic jarred or 3 – 4 whole cloves fresh
- 2 TBSP sherry vinegar
- 1 TBSP smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt fine
- 2 pieces bread fresh or stale, whatever you have or you can use one bagel in place of the 2 pieces of bread, for gluten free use gluten free bread.
- Measure and place all ingredients into the food processor. Blend until you are satisfied with the texture. Taste and add more salt if desired.
- Using fire-roasted red peppers, fire-roasted tomatoes and smoked paprika give this sauce marvelous roast-y flavor. You can use unsalted, toasted almonds (or toast your almonds in a pan or the oven) for more toasty flavor. Just be sure to use any unsalted almonds in this recipe. Marcona almonds (if you can find them not packed in salt and oil) are very Spanish.
- Water-packed roasted red peppers are recommended, you can also roast and peel your own peppers.
- Smoked paprika is recommended over sweet paprika.
- Most canned tomatoes have had the skins steamed off, you want skinless, roasted, canned tomatoes.
- To make this gluten free, use gluten free bread.
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Did you make this Spanish Romesco Sauce? Any substitutions? Was it awesome? What did you eat it with? Tell me about it in the comments below.