This Spanish Romesco Sauce is one of my favorites, especially when you can buy or harvest red peppers and tomatoes at their peak freshness. I personally love it in many different recipes, from a side sauce for meat and fish to a spread on sandwiches to an appetizer topped with grilled shrimp. The possibilities are endless! Grilled bread is a wonderful must-have side in my home to this smoky, delicious sauce.

On a related note, I wrote a short story about a young couple from Silicon Valley who bonded to help each other in an unexpected way. In the story, they stop en route from Palo Alto to Santa Barbara for lunch and have a delicious charcuterie board with Romesco Sauce.

Romesco Sauce is very old. It originated in Tarragona, Spain in the 15th century. The sauce’s name means ‘to mix’ and was first made in a mortar and pestle and served with grilled fish by the fishermen. As with many Spanish and Italian recipes, there are a number of variations and no single correct recipe.

Watch the Constrained Gourmet make Romesco Sauce live at the Napa Farmers Market!

My only recipe deviation from traditional Romesco Sauce is to exclude adding bread to the mixture. My family and I just don’t like it in the sauce, but if you want to follow tradition, add a slice of coarse-textured bread to the ingredients below.

Romesco Sauce
3 red bell peppers
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup blanched almonds
1.5 cups peeled, seeded, chopped tomatoes
3-5 cloves of roasted garlic or 1-2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
salt, pepper

Cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds, ribs, and stem. Place them cut side down on a baking sheet. Broil them until the entire skin is black (alternatively, you can also grill them). Place plastic wrap over the peppers and let them cool for approximately 10 minutes. This will allow you to slip the skins off easily.

In a skillet, roast the almonds until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the peppers, almonds, tomatoes, garlic, paprika, and red pepper flakes to a food processor or blender and pulse several times. Combine the sherry vinegar and the olive oil in a small pitcher or measuring cup. With the processor running, add the olive oil mixture. Taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Let sit at least one hour before serving.