Romesco is bold Spanish sauce typically made of peppers, nuts, tomatoes and garlic. This is also the third dish served at my recent west elm demonstration. Mild, sweet ancho chiles are blended with roasted red bell pepper, toasted hazelnuts and almonds, garlic, tomato paste and a smokey-hot blend of spices. The finished sauce is no joke. With each rich, savory bite, you will experience the most incredible depth of flavor. Seriously addicting. Enjoy Romesco on pork, chicken, seafood or beef. Or simply spread on a cracker or crostini as an appetizer. Based on the feedback I received from the event attendees, this dish was definitely the crowd favorite. Continue reading for the recipe.
Romesco Sauce with Crostini
2 ancho chiles
2 red bell peppers
1/2 cup hazelnuts
4 tablespoons baking soda
1/2 cup blanched almonds
3 slices of baguette (or 1 larger slice of bread), fried in olive oil until golden
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
Small pinch ground cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Crostini, for serving
Start by preparing the ancho chiles. Using a sharp knife, carefully slice from the stem end to the bottom end on one side of the chile. Pull off the stem and discard. Open the chile like a book. Using your knife, scrape out the ribs and seeds. Place the chiles in a small saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, remove saucepan from heat, cover and let steep for 30 minutes.
Turn your burner on full flame. Using a long fork, hold one of the bell peppers directly over the flame until the skin starts to bubble and blacken. Flip the pepper and blacken the other side. Once completely roasted, place the pepper in a bowl and repeat the same process with the remaining bell pepper. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let the peppers steam and cool for 20 minutes. If you don’t have a gas stove, you can also roast the peppers under a broiler or with a blow torch.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot 2/3 full of water to a boil. Once boiling, add baking soda and hazelnuts. Boil hazelnuts for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and rinse hazelnuts under cold, running water, then peel off skins. Spread skinned hazelnuts out on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in the oven for 18—20 minutes, stirring occasionally. You will know the nuts are done when they become fragrant and their color deepens. Set aside. Spread almonds out on a separate rimmed baking sheet and toast for 7 to 8 minutes in the oven. They too will be done once fragrant and golden. Set aside.
Drain ancho chiles, then chop into small pieces. Set aside. Transfer roasted peppers to a cutting board. Scrape off the blackened skin using the tip of a knife. Cut off the stem end of each peppper and slice in half. Remove the ribs and seeds. Discard skin, ribs and seeds. Chop peppers into ½ inch pieces and set aside (a rough chop is fine here).
In a blender or food processor, combine the toasted hazelnuts, almonds, garlic and bread. Pulse until finely ground. Add the ancho chiles, roasted red peppers, sweet paprika, hot smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, tomato paste and vinegar, processing to combine. With the machine running, slowly stream in 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and process until the sauce emulsifies. Season to taste with kosher salt, red wine vinegar and cayenne pepper.
Transfer to a clean bowl and refrigerate until needed. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Makes 2 1/2 cups.