I first tried salsa romesco a few years ago when someone asked me to recreate a recipe they had tried at a friend’s house. The one I tested was very mild and honestly not very exciting. Based on the name I thought it was an Italian sauce like a red pesto or something. After testing and recreating the recipe for them, I sort of pushed it out of my mind and didn’t give it a second thought.
Fast forward to present day when I am working on a Spanish-inspired menu for an upcoming Family Dinner Book Club and I learn that Salsa Romesco actually originates in Spain and contains more exciting ingredients than the mild bell peppers I used once upon a time.
In a moment of Serendipity, Caroline’s recipe for romesco sauce popped up in my Facebook feed the day before I would be preparing my Spanish menu. After seeing her lovely photos, and reading about her time living in Spain, I decided her version is probably much more authentic than I had tried previously. So I set out to make her recipe to include in my menu. By the way, how jealous are we that Caroline got to live in SPAIN for a year?! Correct, so jealous.
My quick shopping trip to gather all the ingredients resulted in not being able to find the same exact items, so I improvised on a few of them. First of all, I love hazelnuts and purposely shop at locations I know I can find whole ones, so I am using whole blanched hazelnuts instead of ground.
My local grocery was out of dried ancho chilies, which is odd because that is a staple here in Southern California. However, because I love them so, I know that dried ancho chilies are actually poblano peppers that have been dried and shriveled, so I decided to use a fresh poblano since that was available to me.
I used all red wine vinegar for the acid and left out the lemon juice just because I forgot to pick a lemon that day. Definitely add a splash of lemon juice, though, because lemon juice brightens everything! It is a magic ingredient that makes sauces like this shine. So don’t make my mistake. Make sure you always have lemons on hand!
Since I was serving this with a larger menu, I used the sauce as a dip for bread and vegetables. It’s more common purpose is to serve over grilled fish, which I think sounds amazing, and I will be trying that with my next batch.
This sauce ended up being so full of flavor and much more exciting than my first experience with salsa romesco. I served this at family dinner and everybody else loved it, too. It has some spice, but not too much, and it has a fresh and summer taste from the tomatoes and of course the kick from the raw garlic. I think I’ll try swirling this into pasta, too!
- 1 poblano pepper
- 70 grams (1/2 cup) blanched hazelnuts
- 70 grams (1/2 cup) blanched almonds
- 40 grams (1 cup) bread cubes
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 large (300 grams) ripe tomato
- 2 jarred piquillo peppers
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) red wine vinegar
- extra virgin olive oil
- Roast the poblano pepper over an open flame to blacken all the skin. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to steam for 5 minutes. Peel off the blackened skin and remove the stem and seeds.
- Place the hazelnuts and almonds in a dry saucepan over medium heat. Shake or stir constantly until the nuts are starting to brown and become very aromatic, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the food processor.
- Add a bit of olive oil to the saucepan over medium heat, add the breadcrumbs, and toast until golden brown, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the food processor.
- Pulse the nuts and bread cubes in the food processor until finely chopped.
- Add the peeled and seeded poblano pepper, garlic, tomato, piquillo peppers, paprika, salt, and vinegar.
- Pulse to combine all the ingredients.
- With the food processor running, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the romesco mixture until it reaches a sauce consistency. Depending on how thick you like the sauce, you will use about 3-6 tablespoons of oil.