Romesco sauce is most typically eaten with calçots in a calçotada – which is basically a kind of traditional (and often messy) Catalan barbecue with lots of calçots and lots of meat. The meat in question is very often lamb and/or sausages as the romesco sauce happens to go beautifully with both the meat and the calçots.
Romesco sauce is made from roasted or raw almonds, pine nuts or hazelnuts, roasted garlic, olive oil and ñora (nyora in Catalan) peppers – and it’s pretty easy to make yourself at home. Ñora peppers come mostly from the Alicante and Murcia regions of southeastern Spain and may not be all that easy to find everywhere in Catalunya, although the main supermarkets should have them. If you are making the sauce at home and can’t get your hands on ñora peppers you can use red pepper and chili pepper (optional) instead.
Romesco Sauce Recipe:
- 2 good-sized ripe tomatoes
- 4 ñora peppers (or the equivalent in red peppers)
- 1 chilli pepper (optional)
- 100g of roasted almonds or a mix of almonds, hazelnuts and pine nuts
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 small onion or 2 shallots
- 200ml of extra virgin olive oil (you might not need it all)
- 2 slices of bread, preferably sourdough, lightly toasted or fried in olive oil
- 60ml sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika seasoning
- Salt and pepper
- If using ñora peppers, leave them to soak in warm water for about half an hour
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF
- Wrap the whole head of garlic in tin foil with a little olive oil
- Peel the onion or shallots
- Place the tomatoes, peppers, garlic and onion in the preheated oven to roast
- The garlic and onion should be roasted for about 20-25 minutes, but the tomatoes and peppers require less time and so should be removed after about 10 minutes
- Once removed from the oven, leave the tomatoes, peppers, onion and garlic until cool enough to handle. Then, remove the skins from the roasted peppers and tomatoes and also the seeds from the peppers, then roughly chop and place in a blender.
- Peel the garlic and put into the blender, along with the onion or shallots
- Roast the almonds in the oven for 3 – 4 minutes until very lightly roasted
- Roughly chop the almonds and/or hazelnuts and add to the blender
- Wet the toast with the vinegar and tear it into pieces, add to blender
- Add the smoked paprika seasoning
- Blend the mixture until it forms a smooth paste
- Turn the blender to the slowest available setting
- Add the olive oil a little at a time. It may take several minutes to blend the oil and the mixture is emulsified. The sauce should be a little rough and textured rather than completely smooth. Once you have achieved the desired consistency do not add any more olive oil.
- Add salt and pepper according to taste
- You can also add a little lemon juice if desired
The sauce tastes even better after 24 hours in the fridge, or so the locals say!
As mentioned at the start, romesco sauce is typically consumed at a calçotada but it is a wonderfully tasty sauce that can be used with lots of different meats and vegetables. It’s actually pretty good as a dip with nachos, but don’t tell any Catalans we said that, because we’ll deny it!
And since Romesco sauce is Catalan, we’ll leave you with:
Check out our recipes section for more homemade Mediterranean dishes to try at home.