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I originally made this Romesco sauce (sometimes it’s spelt Romescu) because I’d bought some calçot onions and this is the sauce that goes with them.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.
- 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.
- De-seed and chop the pepper and add that in too, continue to fry gently for about five minutes.
- Add the garlic and fry until the onion and pepper are both soft.
- Core the tomatoes, then chop them roughly and add, continue frying gently for another couple of minutes.
- Add all the other ingredients and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.
- Blend in the saucepan with your stick blender.