Simple Romesco Sauce (vegan)

Romesco Sauce - A bright orange sauce in a black bowl against a black background.

This dark and sassy Romesco Sauce is the beating heart of classic sauces. It’s intense smoky flavour will have you licking your plate right until the end. 

What is Spanish Romesco Sauce?

Romesco Sauce is a brilliant red Spanish salsa made of simple ingredients. Hailing from Tarragona, the coastal province in NE Spain, it tastes delicious with fish and seafood. Romesco’s smoky flavours also pair well with chicken or even lamb.

Romesco Sauce - A bright orange sauce in a black bowl against a black background.

Since romesco is entirely vegan, it’s delicious when served with vegetables especially alongside grilled Spanish green onions called calçots.

What is Romesco Sauce Made Of?

Nuts. Peppers. Tomato Paste. Olive Oil. Those are the four main classic components of Romesco. They form the body of the salsa, which then becomes accentuated by garlic, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper. All those rich flavours need a bit of acid, so a splash of red wine or sherry vinegar is required.

While my recipe contains roasted almonds; raw almonds, roasted hazelnuts, and even pine nuts are often used. The dark little flecks you see in the photo above are either charred pepper skin or fresh parsley.

roasting a red pepper over a gas stove.

In Spain, Romesco is usually made with either hot/sweet bixto or nyora peppers but here in Alberta I used a roasted sweet red bell pepper. In the summer I roast peppers on the barbecue, but here in the dead of winter I finally get to flame roast them on my new gas stove! 

It takes a fair amount of time to hold a pepper over the flames until it turns black but the flavour boost is worth it. I eventually gave up and threw a metal rack on top of the flame.

a simple roasted red pepper.

After the skin of the pepper has charred and turned black, place the pepper in a small bowl and cover. This step steams the pepper and loosens the skin, making it really easy to peel. Don’t worry if you can’t get all the skin off, it just adds to the smoky flavour of the sauce!

Romesco Sauce - all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.

The great thing about Romesco is that it’s quick to make in a food processor.  Here’s a great opportunity to try a little experiment: omit the salt at this stage.

Process everything else into small chunks, then start slowly drizzling the olive oil in as the machine is running. This emulsifies the oil into the sauce, creating a lighter texture.

Romesco Sauce - A bright orange sauce in a black bowl against a black background.

Give the sauce a taste…what is it missing? When I tried this I tasted the smoky paprika right away, the acidity and umami…but something was missing.

I almost added a bit of sugar because it was quite tart. Then I realized I hadn’t seasoned the sauce yet. You will be amazed at the changes in flavour once you add the salt, it really comes alive!

Pin Simple Romesco Sauce.

Pinterest image of Romesco Sauce - A spoon holds a bright orange sauce over a black bowl against a black background.

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Yield: 2 cups

Simple Romesco Sauce

Simple Romesco Sauce

This dark and sassy Romesco Sauce is the beating heart of classic sauces. It's intense smoky flavour will have you licking your plate right until the end.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 27 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 large roasted red bell pepper; skinned and de-seeded
  • 1 garlic clove; minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds; toasted
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tspn cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt some freshly ground pepper
  • squeeze fresh lemon juice

Instructions

    1. Add all ingredients except the olive oil to the small bowl of a food processor.
    2. Process until slightly chunky, then start drizzling in the olive oil.
    3. Use within one week.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 233 Total Fat: 23g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 19g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 392mg Carbohydrates: 7g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 3g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 2g
Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.

2 comments

  1. Chef Sous Chef

    Absolutely loving this Romesco. So simple. Also, your photography is stunning!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Thank you so much chef sous chef!! It really is so easy to make, and so versatile.

      Reply

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