Posted by: A Part of the Solution | October 21, 2011

Romesco Sauce

I first had romesco sauce at the original Jaleo tapas restaurant in DC (7th and E Sts, NW–it’s still there as of this writing, as are the branches in Crystal City, Bethesda and Vegas). The Romesco was featured over a dish of roasted potatoes and twinned with a lovely aioli. I was in heaven. And I ordered the Patatas Bravas each and every time I dined at any branch of Jaleo. I also got to work on ‘stealing’ the Romesco Sauce  recipe ASAP.

I worked for a vegan catering firm at the time. I was overjoyed to find Romesco Sauce is vegan in its native incarnations. I sourced a recipe from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Her version of Romesco sauce didn’t have the balance I’d come to know and appreciate at Jaleo. So the tinkering began. And along the way, I produced a gluten free version.

This traditional Spanish sauce is good on almost everything. It goes fabulously with roasted root veggies (especially  potatoes). It’s marvelous over plain, steamed veggies (like green beans or broccoli). It complements fish and chicken outrageously well, and makes a grilled burger into a masterpiece of perfection. It’s a stand-up dip for a plate full of crudités. Once you try it, you’ll understand.

Romesco Sauce

10 TBSP olive oil, divided

1 fat slice of crusty bread, torn into pieces OR

2 oz cooked potato, diced

5 cloves of garlic chopped and mashed with

½ tsp salt

2 tsp smoked paprika (pimenton) or regular if you don’t have smoked

1 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste, or use a hot pepper as part of your roasted pepper volume)

24 almonds, or hazelnuts, or a combination, toasted and rubbed to remove most of their skin

9 oz tomatoes, blanched and peeled and seeded and coarsely chopped (or 3 from a can of whole peeled–seeded and coarsely chopped)

14 oz peppers, red and orange are best choices (sweet is traditional but not the only possibility here), seeded and roasted and the skins rubbed off–wear nitrile/latex gloves if you’re working with hot peppers to protect your fingers

¼ cup sherry vinegar, or malt vinegar with a splash of balsamic in it

2 TBSP minced flat leaf parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Heat 2 TBSP of the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan. Add the bread or potato and fry ‘til the starch takes good color and even begins to look a little burnt around the edges. Add the mashed garlic, the paprika and the pepper flakes if using. Cook for another two minutes, keeping the heat low enough that the garlic doesn’t burn.

Put the contents of the pan into a food processor’s bowl or the container of a blender. To this, add the nuts, tomatoes, peppers and the vinegar. Turn on the motor and blend these very thoroughly. With the motor still running, drizzle in the rest of the olive oil—slowly so that the sauce emulsifies properly.

Taste the sauce carefully. Does it need more salt? Black pepper? Another drop of vinegar? Correct the seasoning, stir in the flat leaf parsley and allow the Romesco sauce to marry at least one hour (and up to five days) before using.



  1. droooooooolll……

    • Yeah, it’s that good. It also makes the case for tracking down and dropping coin on the sherry vinegar. Whoa!

      • How ’bout just plain sherry?

      • You could use a tablespoon and make up the rest with malt or cider vinegar. It would probably work very nicely.

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