After a few months of writing the Sauced column, my first inclination whenever trying a new sauce is now always, "How can I make this at home?" This was the case for a Romesco sauce—a roasted red pepper and almond spread originating in the Catalonia area of Spain—I savored while out a couple weeks ago.
I've been veering towards rather minimalist sauces lately, but this one required a bit more work, starting with roasting the peppers, garlic, almonds, tomato, and a thick slice of country bread. Throw all that into a food processor along with olive oil, sherry vinegar, smoked paprika, salt, and cayenne, and purée it until smooth.
The resulting sauce is so rich, creamy, and delicious that it's hard to believe there isn't much bad for you in it.
My wife's Texas blood had her equating the flavor most closely to pimento cheese, which is laden with cheese and mayo. At first I paused at the idea, then assured her that this sauce has great flavor with very little guilt, which might just make it a new standard in our household.
- Yield:makes 2 cups
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:3 hours
- 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 almond, garlic, bread and tomato on baking sheet and place in the oven. Roast almonds until fragrant and bread is crusty and just starting to brown, about 10 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.
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 and airtight container and place in the refrigerator until cool. Store refrigerated up to 5 days.