Romesco is a classic Catalan sauce with a robust, coarse-grained, and spreadable texture. Recipes vary, but you can expect most to include a blend of roasted red peppers, mild ñora chiles, garlic, hazelnuts or almonds, bread crumbs, olive oil, and occasionally, tomatoes. The allure of this sauce lies in its fine balance of smoky, sweet, and nutty flavors. I've incorporated it into a sandwich here, but it's a wonderful addition to meats, fish, vegetables, or simply on a piece of good, crusty bread.
Roasting the ingredients for the romesco is a must; the flavors meld, melt, and intensify as they cook under scorching heat. My recipe opts for canned or jarred piquillo peppers rather than fresh red bell peppers because I prefer their lightly acidic sweetness. These are roasted along with yellow onion, a handful of garlic garlic cloves, canned plum tomatoes (which make the sauce season-less), ancho chile (in lieu of the more difficult to find ñora), smoked paprika, and, to add richness and an extra layer of smokiness, an unorthodox ingredient: chopped bacon.
Once roasted, the pepper mixture is pulsed in a food processor along with bread and nuts, which will give the sauce its trademark thickness and texture.
For the sandwich portion of this recipe, pork tenderloin is quickly cooked by cutting it into 1-inch thick medallions. These are shredded, then crisped at high heat and tossed with peppery arugula. These crisp bits of pork are mounded on hearty bread thickly spread with romesco. Dig in, it's riquísimo.
About the author: María del Mar Sacasa is a recipe developer, food stylist, and author of the food blog High Heels & Frijoles. Behind her girly façade lurks a truck driver's appetite. Read about her cravings and suffer through her occasional rants on Twitter @HHandFrijoles and Pinterest.