A glut of red bell peppers in my garden—they ripened all at once—sent me scrambling for a way to use several of them quickly. A Romesco sauce immediately came to mind.
Romesco originates in Catalonia, Spain, and there seem to be a bunch of ways to make it. Essentially, it’s a blend of roasted red peppers, bread, almonds, oil and vinegar. Some variations call for whole tomatoes, some call for roasting the tomatoes and peppers, some call for hazelnuts. It has a terrific flavor profile: sweet, spicy, tangy, fresh. Use it in these ways, and experiment with your own:
• As a dip for grilled shrimp
• Over grilled steak, seafood or chicken
• As a dip for skewered chicken for an appetizer
• On sautéed green beans
• As a dip for crudite
• As a spread for any kind of sandwich
• As a condiment with grilled sausages of any kind
1 cup slivered almonds (4 oz.), toasted in a dry pan or oven
3 slices white bread, crusts removed and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1 cup fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
1 cup roasted red peppers, peeled and seeded
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 to 2 Tbsp. Pimenton or Spanish paprika
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
About 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of cayenne (taste sauce first before adding)
Dump nuts into a food processor with the sharp blade; process until finely chopped. Add bread, basil, peppers, tomato past, lemon juice, vinegar, paprika, garlic and salt. Puree. With motor running, gradually pour in olive oil. Taste for seasoning and add cayenne and more salt to taste. If the Romesco is too thick, add a Tbsp. or two of water and process to combine.
Note: This keeps well in the fridge for 10 days or so, and it freezes for later use.