PHOTO COURTESY OF CHERYL WIXSON

Romesco sauce is good over fish and as a dip



My friend Susan Wells brought a bowl of bright red, chunky sauce surrounded with crackers and toast points to the garden club potluck. Smothering a cracker with the mixture, I popped it in my mouth. A taste explosion! Bright, tomato and sweet pepper flavors with rich undertones, a pop of acidity, hints of charred roasting and just the perfect amount of garlic and savory seasonings.

“Romesco sauce,” Susan responded when queried about the tasty dish.

A prolific gardener, she often prepares Romesco sauce in high summer, with freshly roasted sweet bell peppers and cherry tomatoes. This adaptation was her winter version, prepared with pantry items and a quick blend in the food processor.

It was love at first bite! And Susan graciously sent along the recipe.

Romesco sauce was a new taste sensation and unknown culinary territory for me. A bit of research revealed that this lusty sauce or, “salsa romesco”, originated from Tarragona, in northeastern Spain. Area fishermen made Romesco in a mortar and pestle to eat with the local catch of the day, often cod. As with all locally inspired cuisines, there are many family variations.

Traditional recipes combine roasted red peppers with ground almonds, olive oil, and vinegar to make a smooth, rich and nutty sauce that tastes great even simply spread on a slice of rustic bread. Some versions use a combination of toasted nuts, usually almonds and hazelnuts. I substituted pecans for the hazelnuts, another time I’ll try pine nuts.

The body of the sauce usually includes fresh, sun-ripened, sweet tomatoes, also roasted to enhance the flavor. Using just pantry ingredients, I captured the flavors from a jar of my roasted Blush tomato sauce. Susan’s formula calls for a pint of cherry tomatoes.

While roasting the garlic provides a more mellow flavor, I like the sharper taste of fresh garlic.  In many traditional recipes, flour or ground, stale bread may be added as a thickener or to provide texture. Try adding fresh herbs like mint or fennel fronds, particularly when serving with fish.

Romesco sauce truly shines with seafood. We enjoyed it over baked haddock one night for supper and spread it on toasted rolls for a grilled halibut sandwich at lunch. I even mixed Romesco with chopped razor clams and served them up with garlic toast points for a locavore special.

Romesco is a very popular sauce in Spain, especially in the Catalonia region. Tasty with meats like lamb and chicken, or as a side for vegetables, the bright flavors of Romesco sauce are addictive.

The discovery of this dish was wonderful with my pantry items. I can hardly wait to try Romesco sauce with just-picked, perfectly ripe tomatoes and peppers, wood-roasted with garlic, herbs from the garden and freshly caught, Crockett Cove fish. That could be heaven.

Romesco Sauce
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Servings
2 ½ cups
Servings
2 ½ cups
Romesco Sauce
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Servings
2 ½ cups
Servings
2 ½ cups
Ingredients
  • 1 large red bell pepper, roasted
  • 1 cup roasted tomato sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ¼ cup roasted almonds
  • ¼ cup toasted pecans
  • 2 Tbsps. white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsps. sweet paprika
  • Dash cayenne
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsps. chopped fresh parsley
  • Sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
Servings: cups
Units:
Instructions
  1. Assemble ingredients and tools. Peel and chop the garlic. Toast the nuts on a sheet pan in a 350 F-degree oven until nicely browned, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add all ingredients to the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until well combined and makes a sauce as smooth as you wish. We like our sauce a bit chunky.
Recipe Notes

This versatile sauce can be served in many ways. It works well over fish and a dip for toasted bread or crackers or as an alternative dip mixed with chopped, cooked clams.

Nutritional analysis per ¼ cup of sauce: 95 calories, 1.6 grams protein, 4.4 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams fat, 75 mg. sodium, 1.6 grams fiber.

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Cheryl Wixson
"Maine Dish" columnist Cheryl Wixson lives and cooks in Stonington. Her passion for organic Maine products led to the creation of her business, Cheryl Wixson's Kitchen. She welcomes food-related questions and comments at [email protected] or www.cherylwixsonskitchen.com.
Cheryl Wixson

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