Rollickingly Good, Useful For All Sorts Of Things, Romesco sauce

“People who cook become part of a chorus. When I began to pay attention, I could hear their voices in a bubbling pan. Cooking is thinking, and there is knowledge on an epic scale in a pan of hot red sauce.”

Rebecca May Johnson, The Financial Times, September 2022

I originally made this Romesco sauce (sometimes it’s spelt Romescu) because I’d bought some calçot onions and this is the sauce that goes with them.

But as a sauce in its own right it’s outstanding – much too good to save only for eating with calçots. Furthermore, if you cook the pepper, tomatoes, onion and garlic on a smoky barbecue (fired with some oak or hickory) it becomes sublime.

To be authentic you would only use tomatoes and no red pepper, but I think the red pepper adds depth.

Ideas for what to do with romesco sauce

It would also be good:

  • as a soup – maybe with crispy bacon crumbled in
  • as a pasta sauce – perhaps with some feta, but it has a strong taste of its own which would be a shame to spoil
  • with chicken
  • over grilled vegetables – especially asparagus
  • as the Catalans do, with a Xató salad of chicory, black olives, anchovies and salted cod. Follow this link for a good recipe.
  • it’s often served with seafood
  • as a dip – as with calçots, only with other crudités such as carrots and celery
  • over cavolo nero wrapped sausage and ricotta
  • it’s good added to a gruyère, prosciutto and spinach panini
  • you can still try Joël Robuchon’s tomatoes with creamy burrata, silky potato purée and romesco sauce-dashed lobster on the classics menu, Les Eternels, at Le Comptoir Robuchon.

Recipe for romesco sauce

For about six to eight people if poured over chicken or grilled vegetables


  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 very large red pepper or 2 small ones
  • 5 fat cloves of garlic, crushed with 1 tbsp smoked salt
  • olive oil for frying
  • 120 ml/½ cup red martini
  • 50g/½ cup ground (not finely) almonds (or you can use hazelnuts or a mixture of both)
  • 120 ml/½ cup water
  • 1 tbsp semi-sweet smoked Spanish paprika – the authentic Catalonian version uses ‘nyora’ which is a type of sundried small round red pepper
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • you might want to garnish it with a frond or two of fennel or dill.


  1. Peel and chop the onion and fry gently in a saucepan which is NOT a non-stick saucepan – you’re going to use a metal stick blender later.
  2. De-seed and chop the pepper and add that in too, continue to fry gently for about five minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and fry until the onion and pepper are both soft.
  4. Core the tomatoes, then chop them roughly and add, continue frying gently for another couple of minutes.
  5. Add all the other ingredients and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.
  6. Blend in the saucepan with your stick blender.
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