Say hello to my new favorite sauce: Romesco Sauce, a rich, thick, packed-with-flavor sauce made with sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and almonds.
Table of Contents
- What is Romesco Sauce?
- Why You’ll Love It
- How to Make Romesco Sauce
- More Recipe Tips
- Romesco Sauce Uses
- What Diets is Romesco Sauce Appropriate For?
- Try Romesco Sauce with …
What is Romesco Sauce?
Romesco Sauce reportedly originated in coastal Spain and was often served with local fresh-caught fish. Indeed, romesco is still often paired with white fish such as cod, but it has so, SO many more uses than that.
Why You’ll Love It
A bold red-orange, this romesco recipe packs wallop of flavor as vibrant as its color. No shrinking flower of a sauce here, this incredible sauce has a texture similar to pesto, and a taste just as bold. The garlic hits first – in the best possible garlicky way – then the roasted red pepper and the sun-dried tomato come through. A lingering smokiness and acidity from the lemon join in the symphony, and your mouth says “YES. MORE.”
In addition to sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and almonds, it’s is livened up by garlic, lemon, parsley, and – one of my favorite ingredients of all time – smoked paprika. It’s like someone took all of the most flavorful ingredients they could find and made a sauce – and it works. Big time.
- Roasted red bell peppers – One of the key ingredients in romesco is roasted red bell peppers. This ingredient should not be substituted. I used store-bought jarred roasted bell peppers in this recipe, but you could also use fresh roasted red bell peppers. If using fresh peppers, you will need about 8 ounces of peppers (after they are roasted), about 1 rounded cup, or about 2 medium-sized bell peppers. Here’s how to roast your own red bell peppers!
- Sundried tomatoes – When purchasing sundried tomatoes, be sure to select oil-packed sundried tomatoes because they are more tender and blend easily into the sauce. You can use roasted cherry tomatoes, roasted Roma tomatoes, or canned fire-roasted tomatoes when making romesco. If you are considering substituting the sundried tomatoes for one of these alternatives, keep in mind that they will be more watery, less sweet, and will not have as rich of a tomato flavor, so your finished texture and flavor will be different.
- Raw almonds – Roasted almonds and roasted hazelnuts are common nuts used in romesco and can be swapped using a 1:1 ratio for the raw almonds. You could also try using some combination of walnuts, pine nuts, and/or cashews, as is used in pesto.
- Italian parsley – For an alternative to Italian parsley, try substituting fresh basil leaves!
- Smoked paprika – Paprika is made from dried and ground bell peppers and lends to the bold flavor of romesco. It is not spicy. I would not recommend omitting this ingredient; however, you could substitute regular paprika in place of smoked paprika if you do not have it on hand.
- Cayenne pepper – There is only enough cayenne pepper to give this recipe a slight kick, it is not too spicy. If you are super sensitive to spice this ingredient can be omitted.
- Extra virgin olive oil – A good EVOO with a fruity and peppery flavor works well in this recipe. If you do not love the taste of olive oil you can select a variety with a milder flavor. I don’t recommend substituting another type of oil in this recipe.
How to Make Romesco Sauce
This part is especially easy! Just throw the ingredients in the blender and blend! The almonds give the sauce an intriguing texture – it’s thick like hummus, but bits of almond lend heft and body.
More Recipe Tips
- Pat the bell peppers dry with a few paper towels after removing them from the jar and draining the liquid. This will help prevent your sauce from getting too watery.
- A high powdered blender or food processor is key to getting a smooth, creamy sauce. There will be some texture after fully blended from the almonds, however, there should be no chunks. A blender that is 1000 watts or greater will work best.
- When selecting sundried tomatoes, be sure to select a brand that packs the tomatoes in olive oil, not vegetable, canola, or soybean oil. Although we drain the oil, the tomatoes tend to absorb a lot during storage and you may be able to taste residuals of these poor-quality oils in the finished sauce.
Romesco Sauce Uses
If you’re not big on fish, which Romesco Sauce is traditionally paired with, try it with:
- Grilled bread or crackers
- Grilled vegetables
- Sandwiches (try it on this one in place of the pesto!), burgers, and wraps
- Orr even stirred into pasta! So, so good.
What Diets is Romesco Sauce Appropriate For?
It’s considered vegan, gluten-free, and even paleo friendly. It contains no added sugar, no animal products or dairy, and is free of grains and legumes. Romesco sauce is also low carb and can be included as part of a keto diet with just 3 grams of net carbs per serving.
It’s is a great low-carb, high-fiber sauce packed with vitamins and minerals. It is a great way to add some extra olive oil to your diet. High-quality olive oil contains high amounts of polyphenols (like oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol) which have beneficial anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-angiogenic effects. Both the monounsaturated fat and the presence of polyphenols have been shown to be neuroprotective and improve cognitive function. Choose olive oil with a more peppery taste to reap the most benefits.
Try Romesco Sauce with …
- Grilled Summer Veggie Sandwiches – try it in place of the pesto, or in addition!
- As a dipper for zucchini fries
- It’s incredible on these grilled tofu tacos!
- I think these Halloumi Wraps with Romesco Sauce look amazing!
- 12 ounces roasted red peppers (drained and patted dry [about 8 ounces drained, 1 rounded cup or 2 whole bell peppers, roasted]*)
- 1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (drained and patted dry; pack when measuring [55 g])
- 1/2 cup whole raw almonds ([75 grams])
- 1/4 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley (chopped [6 grams])
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1/2 small lemon)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Chopped almonds
- Chopped parsley
- Olive oil
- High-powered blender or food processor
Prepare the ingredients
- Prepare the ingredients by draining the roasted bell peppers and sundried tomatoes and patting them dry, chopping the parsley (just needs to be chopped well enough to measure), and peeling the garlic cloves.
Blend & serve
- Add all ingredients to the blender or food processor and puree for about 1 minute or until there are no large chunks and everything is an even color. Because of the almonds, there will be some texture even when fully pureed but no large chunks should remain.
- Serve immediately on top of an entree or transfer to a bowl, swirl with a spoon creating grooves to hold a drizzle of olive oil, top with chopped parsley and crushed almonds, and serve as a dip for bread or veggies.