Catalan Cuisine: Romesco Sauce

A couple weekends ago my husband and I traveled to Barcelona.  Our goal was to pack in as much culture and good food as we could in during our brief stay.  We spent our time ducking into tapas bars, strolling down the famous Las Ramblas, reveling in the splendid Gaudi architecture, exploring la boqueria food market, and escaping into yet more tapas bars.

Having tapas and drinks with a great group of people we met in Barcelona

One of my favorite things about the whole trip was my discovery of romesco sauce.  An exquisite sauce, originating in the Catalonia region of Spain, typically made from almonds, hazelnuts, roasted garlic, olive oil, and nyora peppers.  There are, of course, several variations to this recipe.  My version keeps the same delicious taste of traditional romesco while using common kitchen ingredients I had lying around my kitchen.

Red bell peppers provide flavor, color, and an impressive nutritional profile to this recipe.  Red bell peppers provide an excellent source of immune boosting vitamin C.  In fact, one red bell peppers provides about two times the amount of vitamin C as an orange.  Red bell peppers are also high in vitamin E, vitamin A, fiber, vitamin B6, folate, and an array of health-promoting phytonutrients.

Romesco Sauce

Makes 1.75 cups, 14 servings (serving size: 2 tablespoons)

2 cups baby roma tomatoes, halved

2 teaspoons olive oil

sea salt and pepper, to taste

3 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded or 1 cup jarred roasted red peppers

3 cloves garlic

6 tablespoons blanched whole almonds

1 red chili

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons Spanish smoked paprika (use regular if you can’t find Spanish)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Scatter tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Season with a little salt and place in oven to roast for 20 minutes.

In a food processor or blender, puree roasted tomatoes with remaining ingredients until you get a smooth, thick consistency.  Season with sea salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve immediately or store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for at least a week.  Romesco sauce taste best when flavors are allowed to marinate together overnight, so make a day ahead if time permits.  This sauce also freezes well for up to 6 months in the freezer.

Recipe Note: Traditional romesco sauce calls for sherry vinegar.  I didn’t have any on hand so I used a combination of balsamic and red wine vinegar.  However, I would suggest using 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar if you have it on hand.  Also, note that this sauce definitely on the spicy side.  De-seed the red chili or use less chili for a milder taste.

Nutrition facts per serving (serving size: 2 tablespoons): 46 calories, 3 g total fat, 38 mg sodium, 4 g total carbohydrates, 1.6 g fiber, 1.5 g protein

My husband and I in front of the Sagrada Familia

BALANCE IT OUT: Romesco sauce is as versatile as pesto and makes a wonderful accomplishment to vegetables, grilled fish, chicken, or beef.  It almost reminds me of a much tastier and healthier barbecue sauce.  Use it as a spread on sandwiches, a dipping sauce for grilled kebabs, a sauce for lightly steamed veggies, or alongside roasted potatoes.  We have been enjoying it with steamed asparagus and as a dipping sauce for roasted leeks!

Lots of Love,


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2 responses to “Catalan Cuisine: Romesco Sauce

  1. Renee – it was wonderful meeting you and your husband in Barcelona! Looks like the leprechaun took a good pic!

    FYI – Love the site – I’ve bookmarked it and will be sure to follow it and try some of your recipes. Enjoy your last few months in Europe!!
    -the feisty NY girl

  2. Hi Linette! It was so wonderful meeting you too! What a crazy small world we live in. :) Thanks so much for your kind words! I hope you love the recipes and let’s definitely keep in touch!

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