Romesco sauce

This delicious, colourful Catalan sauce made with red peppers and ground almonds originates in Tarragona and is traditionally eaten with calçots, sweet onions which are barbecued in early spring and eaten out of doors.  The sauce goes very well with grilled chicken, pork or fish too, like mayonnaise, and can be added to stews.  I was once slightly surprised in a restaurant in Tarragona where there was no written menu and when the waitress told us the choices I missed the word ‘manitas’ from the dish ‘manitas de cerdo’ in romesco sauce – expecting pork, I was served pig’s trotters, not a problem as they made a very tasty sauce with the spicy romesco ingredients although there were a lot of small bones, but it was an unexpected delight!

I sometimes buy a very good version of this sauce in a jar, made in French Catalunya, but at this time of year when we have so many red peppers and tomatoes in the garden there is no excuse not to make my own again.  Looking at the bowl of red and yellow peppers I’d picked yesterday evening I thought to myself that it’s no surprise that both the Occitan and Catalan flags have red and yellow as their colours – they are the colours of summer here.

There are many variations of this dish, but this is what I did today:

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I skinned 10 long red peppers that had been cooked on a vine-wood fire on the barbecue.  You can use barbecue charcoal, or even a gas grill, but I think the vine wood gives the peppers a special flavour.  Let the skin burn a bit because this makes them easier to peel.  I blended the flesh of the peppers into a paste and added them to 2 tablespoons of fresh breadcrumbs (from day-old bread), 2 roasted tomatoes that I’d pressed through a sieve to remove the skins and seeds, 3 tablespoons of ground almonds, a teaspoon of paprika, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and salt to taste.

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Once all the ingredients have been mixed together, the sauce is ready to serve.  I divided this quantity into four, leaving some out to eat tomorrow with chicken or fish and putting three servings into tubs to freeze.  I haven’t tried freezing it before, although I can’t see why it shouldn’t work.  I’ll let you know one day in the depths of winter when I thaw this taste of summer!

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6 thoughts on “Romesco sauce

  1. I am bottling tomatoes today (in the heat..what madness) and have had an exploding jar and spilt boiling water to deal with. I was beginning to think “I never want to see another tomato again” and I then…I saw your lovely post. Peace and harmony is restored as is my opinion of the beautiful tomato!

  2. I only discovered this sauce a few months ago and I love it!! I did like you did — made several batches and froze it in small portions. I feel like my freezer is a safe-deposit box! I agree — it will be wonderful to have in the “winter” when it gets cool enough to consider stewish things again! Mmmm…

  3. I am so envious of your capsicums and eggplants. I am determined to find a reliable way to grow them here but last summer was so cold and wet I did not get one flower set despite having mountains of tomatoes. I look at the photos of all the wonderful, amazing colours of the capsicums and eggplants in my Adelaide garden and feel a bit sad…. until I remember the joy of the berries here…. every colour of the rainbow and varieties I had never heard of before. We must learn to make the best of what grows in our climate. Now I grow my own cassis!

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