I first came across Romesco sauce when I was lucky enough to work as an assistant food stylist on the cookbook for the second series of Australian MasterChef. This pungent sauce was served with the some beautiful grilled fish as a simple lunch and I instantly fell in love with it!
Romesco sauce originates from Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain and it is said that it was first made by the fisherman of the area as an accompaniment to their daily catch. The sauce typically contains red peppers combined with almonds and/or hazelnuts, vinegar, olive and garlic. Other ingredients like bread and and tomatoes are sometimes added to the mix as well.
Here is my version of Romesco sauce. I add a bit of paprika for a hint of smoke and peppadews for some added sweetness. Peppadews are small piquanté peppers in brine from South Africa. Lately they seem to be available in most countries in supermarkets and delis but if you have trouble finding them just leave them out or add a pinch of sugar instead.
- 1 red pepper, skins and seeds removed
- 1 medium sized tomato, skins and seeds removed
- 4 garlic cloves, roasted and skins removed
- ⅔ cup raw unsalted almonds (you can replace or combine with hazelnuts)
- 1 teaspoon paprika, smoked or hot
- 4 peppadews, in brine
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 100ml olive oil
- Preheat your grill. Cut the red pepper and tomato in half and place skin side up on a roasting pan. Add the unpeeled garlic to the pan as well.
- Grill the pepper and tomato for 5-10 minutes until the skins start to blacken and the garlic starts to brown. You might need to remove the garlic earlier to prevent it from burning. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
- In the mean time if you are using a food processor or hand blender, add the rest of the ingredients into the blender or large bowl.
- Once the pepper and tomato have cooled down pick of the skins and seeds and add them to the bowl. The skins should peel of easily but don't be too fussy if there are bits here and there that stays behind.
- Squeeze the garlic out of their skins into the bowl and then whizz up it all up to a slightly chunky consistency. Add a pinch of salt to taste and give it a final whirr to create a luminous orange sauce!
- If you are depending on a mortar and pestle you will need to add the ingredients in stages to make it easier to pound it into a paste. It helps to add a little salt at the start to get the process underway.
The Romesco sauce should keep for about a week to 10 days in the fridge.
And there you have it – light up that summer BBQ and enjoy this pungent sauce with freshly grilled fish, meat or vegetables.