Romesco sauce is an unforgettable sauce. It’s bold, zippy and full of roasted tomato and pepper flavor. You know how much I love sauces, and romesco is a great one.
Romesco originated in a city called Tarragona in Catalonia, the northeastern-most region of Spain that touches France. Tarragona is a port city, and the fishermen there made romesco sauce to liven up the day’s catches. I enjoy romesco sauce on roasted and grilled vegetables, and much more.
I know I said this already, but I love sauces. Sauces have the power to bring together basic staples, like leftover cooked rice and vegetables, and turn them into a meal you can get excited about.
I especially love sharing sauce recipes from around the globe. Sauces offer us insight into other cuisine’s key flavors, and make me want to travel to taste the originals. Sauces can transport you to another place, whether that’s another part of the world or tasting the next best thing in your own kitchen.
As you’ll read, I made a few substitutions to make this romesco sauce easy to make with basic American grocery store ingredients. I think you’ll love it.
Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy romesco sauce. I bet you have all of the ingredients already!
- Roasted red peppers: Specifically, use high quality jarred roasted red peppers. My favorite brands are Divina and Whole Foods 365. I tried roasting my own peppers, but I couldn’t taste the difference in the finished sauce.
- Whole almonds: Choose unsalted almonds if you can. Either raw or roasted will work. If you only have salted almonds, you could omit the salt from the recipe and add salt to taste at the end. Other traditional options include hazelnuts or pine nuts.
- Sun-dried tomatoes: Traditional romesco sauces are made with roasted tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes offer a similarly rich depth of flavor, without the work.
- Raw garlic: Garlic offers some pungency and funk. The vinegar tempers its bite a bit.
- Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar: Vinegar’s acidic flavor livens up this sauce.
- Smoked Paprika: This adds extra smoky flavor, which would traditionally be found by roasting the tomatoes.
- Cayenne pepper: Just 1/4 teaspoon adds another boost of flavor. I wouldn’t call this sauce spicy, but you can omit it if you’re very sensitive to heat.
- Extra-virgin olive oil: Olive oil makes this sauce rich and creamy. You’ll blend the other ingredients together at first, then drizzle in the olive oil to finish it off.
You’ll notice that this sauce differs somewhat from the romesco sauce you would enjoy in Catalonia. Traditional romesco is made with roasted tomatoes and bitxo peppers (Wikipedia says that these are similar to New Mexican chili peppers) or nyora peppers (a small sun-dried variety of red bell pepper).
I essentially swapped the roasted and sun-dried elements by using roasted red bell peppers and sun-dried tomatoes. With the addition of some smoked paprika, this pantry-friendly version tastes quite similar!
Uses for Romesco
Romesco is traditionally served with fish and other meats, like chicken or steak. I love it on roasted or grilled vegetables (especially eggplant, cauliflower and potatoes).
Romesco is also a delicious dip for flatbread or crusty bread. Or, serve it as a dip for raw veggies. Lastly, it tastes great on eggs cooked any which way (fried eggs, frittatas, scrambled eggs, you name it).
Please let me know how your romesco sauce turns out in the comments! I can’t wait to hear what you serve it on.
Craving more bold sauces? Here are a few of my favorites:
- Basil Pesto
- Aji Verde (Spicy Peruvian Green Sauce)
- Zhoug (Spicy Cilantro Sauce)
- Shatta (Middle Eastern Hot Sauce)
Easy Romesco Sauce
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: 2 ½ cups 1x
- Category: Sauce
- Method: Food processor
- Cuisine: Catalonian
This romesco sauce is the best! This simplified romesco recipe is made with basic pantry ingredients and ready in 5 minutes. It’s bold, zippy and delicious. Recipe yields about 2 ½ cups.
- One 16-ounce jar of roasted red peppers, drained
- ½ cup raw or roasted almonds (unsalted)
- ¼ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed and drained
- 2 medium-to-large cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red wine vingar
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- In a blender (preferably) or food processor, combine everything but the olive oil. Securely fasten the lid and blend, starting on low and increasing the speed as you are able to gain traction.
- Once the ingredients are mostly blended, start drizzling in the olive oil while running the blender. Blend until you reach your desired consistency (I like my romesco sauce pretty creamy, but you might prefer it with a more chunky texture).
- Taste, and add additional salt (up to ¼ teaspoon) if it doesn’t quite knock your socks off yet. Serve immediately, or store in a jar in the refrigerator for 7 to 10 days.
Make it nut free: Your best bet would probably be to omit the almonds altogether. If you can tolerate pine nuts, they would work (technically pine nuts are seeds, but people with nut allergies are sometimes allergic to pine nuts as well).
Make it tomato free: Romesco sauces typically contain tomatoes, but you can omit the sun-dried tomatoes if necessary.
Recommended equipment: My Vitamix blender (affiliate link) can blend this sauce into creamy oblivion.