Once you’ve made your own Romesco Sauce, your kitchen might sound like a Waffle House – cause your family is going to be ordering up everything smothered and covered with this stuff. Smoky, tangy fire-roasted tomatoes and peppers are blended to smooth perfection with roasted nuts, garlic, and olive oil to create this rich sauce.
Reader, you may know me as “salty,” but did you know I am also “saucy?” God, I love a sauce. Dip, spread, dressing… I love savory mushy things that go on other savory things.
Sauces are my favorite by a mile for their uncanny ability to magically transform a single simple food in one fell swoop. Don’t believe me? Macaroni and cheese. Buffalo chicken. Caesar Salad. Pasta, chicken, and lettuce – better food through better saucing. And those are all pretty basic transformations.
There’s a reason there are aisles full of bottled, jarred, and ready-to-mix powdered sauces. In a lot of cases, sauce ain’t easy. In many cases, if you think it’s easy, you did it totally wrong. (Yeah. I’m talking to you with the repeatedly broken Hollandaise sauce that you eat anyway cause you “don’t want to waste it.” That’s nasty.) Or on the flip side if it’s “easy,” it ain’t “quick.”
If you wanted to make your own Tabasco, it’s only got four ingredients – peppers, salt, water, vinegar. Super easy, right? Except it takes one to two weeks to ferment your peppers. Not quick, and certainly not convenient. Even any good homemade gravy requires you to roast a whole carcass in order to turn the drippings into that velvety smooth meat juice. So easy? That’s debatable. And I’m not even gonna go into what it takes to perfect the five mother sauces here…
So when we find a sauce that is a) quick, b) easy, and c) delicious, we treat it like the special unicorn it is. Especially if we can make said sauce with whole, healthy ingredients and not compromise the flavor. So, let’s talk romesco…
What is romesco sauce?
Hailing from Catalonia (coastal Spain) – and originally devised as an accompaniment for fish and seafood – romesco is a smoky tomato-based sauce that blends roasted tomatoes and peppers with garlic, oil, and nuts (a similar base used in many sauces from this vast Mediterranean region covering northern Africa, Europe, and the Middle East).
- WHOLE CANNED FIRE ROASTED TOMATOES: fire roasted is the key (see below); rinse them first to remove the canning sauce.
- ROASTED RED PEPPER: jarred or homemade.
- WHOLE ALMONDS: or hazelnuts, or a combination of both; toast them first for best flavor.
- SHERRY VINEGAR: or red wine vinegar.
- GARLIC: raw or roasted.
- PAPRIKA: smoked is traditional; make sure it’s fresh!
- ANCHO CHILI POWDER: essential to replace the smoke and hint of spice of dried chili peppers.
- SALT: to taste; use sea or kosher salt.
- EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL: use good quality.
Making a quick and easy romesco sauce
TOMATOES: This sauce is traditionally made by roasting the garlic and tomatoes to concentrate their sugars and reduce their water content. To save time, let the grocery store do some work for you by using canned tomatoes. Choose the best-quality, whole canned fire roasted tomatoes you can find.
GARLIC: I found that raw garlic works well if you reduce the amount, but if you’d like to experiment with roasted garlic you can roast your own, or buy jarred roasted garlic (we love the DeLallo brand).
PEPPERS: Traditional romesco is made with dried chili peppers -instead use roasted red peppers (buy them jarred, or make your own!) for convenience and replace the smoke and spice with smoked paprika and ancho chili powder. This combination of ingredients will approximate the flavor of classic Spanish nyora peppers, which can be very difficult to source in the US.
BLENDING: And since we’re focusing on convenience vs. tradition here, please also feel free to use your blender or food processor instead of a mortar and pestle… unless you’ve got both the time and upper body strength to burn.
How to serve romesco sauce
I’m going to make a bold statement: put that sh*t on everything. Seriously! Serve it cold, serve it warm, serve it room temperature. Just serve it.
- Vegetables: our favorite way to serve romesco sauce is with roasted cauliflower, but please, please, please don’t stop there. It’s phenomenal on any roasted or grilled vegetables, like eggplant, potatoes, and broccoli.
- Meat: if protein is your thing, you’re in luck! Romesco originated as a sauce for fish, but it’s also a perfect topper for steak and chicken.
- Bonus: it also serves as an excellent, simple dip for bread (crusty or pita) or raw veggies.
Does this condiment fit my diet?
Made with whole food ingredients and no added sugars, romesco sauce is friendly for nearly every diet. It’s naturally vegan and plant-based. With healthy fats like almonds and olive oil, it’s great for those following a Whole30, paleo, and keto (3g net carbs) plan.
- Store in a sealed, lidded jar in the fridge for at least a week (ours didn’t last longer!)
- Freeze small portions (about a cup) for up to 3 months; defrost in the fridge overnight.
More condiments to spice up just about anything
Did you make this recipe for romesco sauce? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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Romesco Sauce (Vegan, Whole30, Keto)Print Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- Food Processor
- 4 whole fire roasted canned tomatoes
- 1 whole roasted red pepper, about ¾ cup
- ½ c whole almonds or hazelnuts, toasted
- 2 tbsp red wine or sherry vinegar
- 2 cloves raw garlic, or 4 cloves roasted garlic
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp ancho chili powder, more to taste
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ c extra virgin olive oil
- Heat the oven to 350°F. Spread the nuts onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Transfer to a food processor and toast 8-10 minutes, shaking once halfway through, or until the nuts are lightly browned and very fragrant. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.
- Place the tomatoes into a colander and rinse under cool running water to remove the canning sauce.
- Place the tomatoes, roasted red pepper, nuts, vinegar, galic, paprika, chili powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse until all ingredients are pulverized.
- Switch the motor to continuous - pour the olive oil through the feed tube.
- Taste for seasoning and adjust seasonings or acidity to taste. Serve immediately, or store in the fridge in a sealed jar for up to 1 week. Makes about 2 cups.