I love this classic Catalan sauce because it is most versatile – it goes well as a dip with vegetables or with crackers (makes for a great party appetizer) and it absolutely delicious with any kind of fish! One of the most classic ways of eating this sauce is with grilled spring onions (it’s a huge tradition in that part of Spain) and so drawing inspiration from that tradition, I sometimes serve it with grilled vegetables. Most recipes for Romesco sauce use hazel nuts and almonds but today I switched these ingredients with walnuts and pine nuts. Also I kept the sauce a bit chunky and coarse – which gave it some texture and body and I served it with a simple pan-fried filet of flounder. The fish filet sat atop a bed of sautéed spinach (with a healthy dose of garlic in it) and the combination of the fish, the spinach and the sauce was just perfection! I served it with a side of pickled butter beans and it was a simple and elegant dinner that my husband and I enjoyed thoroughly on our quiet Saturday evening at home.
As a word of caution, I should tell you that the quantity of ingredients that I used made a lot of sauce. I intend to use it as a spread on my sandwiches over the course of a few days or maybe as a dip with my carrot sticks, but if you don’t want so much of it, please feel free to half the quantities of the ingredients.
1. Two large red bell peppers
2. 20 ripe sweet grape tomatoes (traditional recipe calls for Roma tomatoes)
3. 5-6 cloves of garlic (mine were not very big)
4. 2 teaspoons of sweet smoked paprika
5. ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
6. Salt to taste
7. 1/3 cup of red wine vinegar
8. 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
9. ¼ cup of pine-nuts
10. ¼ cup of walnuts
11. A small slice of bread as a thickening agent
12. 1 tablespoon of honey (this is my addition, you can omit it if you like but I like it because it adds another layer of complexity to the sauce).
1. Wash and thoroughly dry the red bell peppers.
4. While the peppers are sweating, peel the garlic cloves.
5. In a shallow sauté pan add about a tablespoon of olive oil and heat on low heat.
7. Add the paprika powder, salt and the pepper flakes and stir.
8. Open the tin foil and slowly remove the skin of the red bell peppers.
9. Chop the flesh of the skinned peppers (remove the seeds and stem).
10. Add the chopped peppers to the sauté pan and cook them for another 3-4 minutes.
12. In a food processor, add the contents of the sauté pan, olive oil, pine nuts, walnuts and the slice of bread and grind everything. I kept my sauce quite coarse this time but the traditional Romesco sauce is often smooth and creamy.
13. I served the sauce over a filet of pan-fried flounder filet (it was pan-fried on high heat in a bit of butter, olive oil, after it was dredged in a bit of flour and seasoned with salt and pepper). I laid the fish over a bed of garlic sautéed spinach and squeezed a lemon over it and then added a liberal serving of the Romesco sauce on top of the fish! It was a dinner fit for a queen!