Romesco is a smokey red pepper sauce that originated in the Catalonia region of Spain, and it’s deservedly become a staple akin to pesto in kitchens everywhere. It’s smokey, rustic, savory, a little tangy, creamy, and so delicious. I am not exaggerating when I say I always have a jar of homemade Romesco in my fridge! In fact, sometimes I plan my meals as an excuse to just eat romesco in some form. I love to double the below recipe and make a big batch on Sundays to use throughout the week on grilled meats or fish, as a dip for crudités or chips, nestled into a grain bowl, or simply spread onto a toasted or gilled baguette slice – my favorite. Romesco has many variations, and this is my take on the delicious classic.
Historically, people have thrown stale bread into the recipe for added texture. I find that the below combination with just toasted almonds works perfectly, which also means I don’t have to make homemade breadcrumbs in a pinch. In the peak of Summer, when bell peppers are in season, I’ll roast them myself. Outside of Summer, I use jarred roasted bell peppers, which are picked, fire roasted, and jarred when they are in the peak of their season. As a note, my recipe calls for smoked paprika, which is available in most grocery stores, and it adds a very distinct and fabulous flavor – so definitely use it if you can! Keep this Romesco recipe in your back pocket – you’ll want to eat it with everything.
- 12 Ounce jar of roasted bell peppers drained – or if you want to roast 2 yourself, here’s how
- 1 Garlic clove
- ¾ Cups toasted almonds you can buy pre-toasted almonds, or toast them yourself
- 2 Teaspoons tomato paste
- 2.5 Teaspoons smoked paprika heaping teaspoons if you're like me and love smoked paprika
- 3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley for me this is two big pinches of parsley
- Generous pinch of salt
- Up to ½ Cup olive oil depending on your preference for texture
- Add the bell peppers, garlic, almonds, tomato paste, smoked paprika, lemon juice, parsley, and salt in a food processor and pulse.
- Gradually drizzle in olive oil to desired consistency.
A Few Notes On Riffs
- The Peppers: If you have a few fresh red bell peppers on hand, try roasting them yourself with this method instead of using jarred roasted bell peppers. Jarred Piquillo peppers are also a great substitution and add a punch of acidity.
- The Tomato Paste: Traditional Romesco uses charred tomatoes – if you have tomatoes on hand and you’re up for a project, char them on the grill and use in place of tomato paste. A few spoonfuls of leftover roasted tomatoes or tomato puree will also work.
- The Almonds: Classic Romesco calls for a combination of breadcrumbs and toasted almonds. Add breadcrumbs if you have them on hand. Other nuts, such as toasted hazelnuts, are also delicious in place of toasted almonds.
- The Lemon: Fresh lemon juice adds brightness and acidity. Swap in red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar if desired.
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