Romesco is a wonderful Spanish sauce made from roasted red peppers, tomatoes, roasted garlic and toasted nuts. It can be used as a party dip or spread, served as part of a tapas-style meal, stirred into mayonaise, slathered onto a sandwich…
Romesco is typically thickened with bread, but I wanted a thinner consistency for the dish you see in the picture (with gigandes beans, saffron broth, potatoes and leeks), so I omitted it. If you want thicker romesco, toast or pan-fry one slice of rustic bread and include it with the rest of the ingredients in the blender. (That dish was my contribution to our weekly culinary challenge over on the ChefSteps forums.)
Update, 2/13/2013 – we’ve got a video for the whole recipe up at ChefSteps now. Scroll down the page for a video of the subrecipes inlcuding this romesco.
Almonds or hazelnuts are most commonly used. I went with all hazelnuts, and amped up the flavor using roasted hazelnut oil. If you happen to have that available, it is aromatic and wonderful. Hazelnut oil makes incredible salad dressings too. And if not, the romesco will still be great with extra-virgin olive oil.
I was in the mood to roast the peppers with a blowtorch. It is fast, and you get a very even blistering of the skin. The flesh doesn’t get cooked as much, leaving a fresher flavor that I quite like. But you can just as well use a more traditional method – see this Polenta with Pepperonata recipe for the technique.
- 1 head garlic + a bit of extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper
- 40 grams skinned hazelnuts (about 1/3 cup)
- 2 canned tomatoes (from one can), preferably San Marzano
- 5 grams kosher salt (about 1 teaspoon)
- 8 grams sherry vinegar (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
- 3.5 grams smoked paprika (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
- 80 grams hazelnut oil if available, otherwise extra-virgin olive oil (about 6 tablespoons)
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Trim top off head of garlic, place on foil, rub with a bit of extra-virgin olive oil. Wrap and roast at until tender and brown, about 40 mins.
- Thoroughly blister red pepper with blowtorch; set in covered bowl for 5 mins. Rub off skin with a paper towel. Split and discard stem, seeds, and ribs. Roughly chop. (Alternatively, you can roast the red peppers under the broiler, or, very carefully, on a stove burner, and then proceed as directed.)
- Toast hazelnuts in a skillet over medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant.
- Put hazelnuts in a blender and process at medium speed until powdered. Squeeze garlic cloves out of skin and add to blender. Add bell pepper, tomatoes, salt, vinegar and smoked paprika and process to a paste. With blender running on low speed, drizzle in the the hazelnut oil. Taste and adjust seasoning.