Native to the Catalonia region in Spain, romesco sauce was one of my pleasant surprises when visiting Barcelona a few months ago. I have heard the name before but never tasted the sauce. So it required a trip to Spain to get familiarized with this delicious and very unique sauce. Doron, my husband, and I first had it in a neighborhood café in one of the less touristy neighborhoods in Barcelona. We ordered all kinds of tapas and one of them was the famous patatas bravas, a Spanish version of French fries served with romesco sauce. We enjoyed all the other tapas immensely , but the romesco sauce was the highlight of our meal. We were blown away by the complexity of the flavors in the sauce and how much it complemented the potatoes. Of course, I had to get the recipe (I didn’t even know the name of the sauce), but unfortunately, the waiter was reluctant to share it with us. Which only made me more determined to find the recipe for this amazing sauce. We had patatas bravas with romesco sauce in other restaurants while in Barcelona (where I got introduced to the name of the sauce), but none of them was as good as the sauce we had at that small neighborhood café.
So I resorted to looking online, and I found a recipe that I really like. The recipe below is my adaptation of that recipe, and is a great version of romesco, if I do say so myself. It is supposedly close to the old, original recipe. Regrettably though, it does not exactly replicate the flavor of the divine romesco sauce we had in that neighborhood café.
3 red bell peppers
5-6 garlic cloves unpeeled
3 Roma tomatoes or 20 cherry tomatoes
1 slice of good bread
¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground anise seeds
½ tsp hot paprika or ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
3 tsp sherry vinegar (red or white wine vinegar are an option too)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Preheat your oven to 375F.
Place the peppers, tomatoes and garlic on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 15-20 minutes until the tomatoes are well roasted and the garlic is soft. Remove them from the oven and set aside. Continue roasting the peppers for 20 more minutes, turning them halfway, until soft or until the skin is charred.
Remove from the oven and place in a covered pot. Set aside to cool.
Turn off the oven and place the slice of bread in for 5 minutes, until toasted. Remove from the oven and break into pieces.
When the veggies are cold, peel their skin off and discard of the pepper seeds. Place the vegetables in a food processor. Add half of the toasted bread, the almonds, spices, olive oil and vinegar and blend into a smooth sauce. If the sauce is too runny, add the rest of the toasted bread and continue blending.
Transfer to a jar and keep refrigerated. Most recipes I followed claimed the sauce would last up to a week. In my fridge it lasted for two weeks and was still delicious.