Tomatoes, peppers, almonds, hazelnuts, garlic, olive oil … really, how could you go wrong? These are the main players in salsa romesco ([roo-mes-koo]), or romesco sauce. In the springtime, Catalonians eat romesco sauce with barbecued calçots. After making it myself, I warn you that it’s seriously addictive. We spread my romesco sauce on all of the foods we barbecued during our camping trip to Bidart, France.
Bidart is a picturesque Basque village near the Spain-France border. Bidart is also a place where surf culture and French culture collide. Picture: couples in striped shirts and sweater-draped shoulders dining next to surfers with sun-bleached locks. The traditional Basque style architecture – white buildings with red, blue or green timber – made it uniquely charming for a Yankee like me.
Certain parts of this recipe require an extra dose of patience … deseeding the tomatoes and scraping the flesh from the pepper, but just put on your summer jams, enter your zen mode and commit. Cocinamos!
- 1/2 cup raw almonds
- 1/4 cup raw hazelnuts
- 4 ripe tomatoes
- 1 ñora or other non-spicy dried pepper *
- 1/2 head of garlic
- Piece of baguette
- 1 cup EVOO
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- salt to taste
- Rehydrate dried pepper by submerging it in cold water for an hour – you may have to place a weight on the pepper to make sure it is completely submerged. The pepper will soften and its color will be lighter when ready.
- Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F. Roast almonds and hazelnuts for 12 minutes or until golden brown.
- Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F. On top oven rack, roast tomatoes and head of garlic for 20 minutes, flip to heat both halves evenly, and roast for another 20 minutes… keep an eye on the garlic because it will cook faster.
- Remove tomatoes to an ice bath and then peel. Quarter the tomatoes and remove seeds.
- Peel roasted garlic cloves.
- Split pepper in half and carefully remove seeds and scrape the flesh from inside.
- Cut baguette in half, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to heated pan and fry baguette halves until golden.
- Add all ingredients except olive oil, salt and vinegar to large bowl and use hand blender to blend. Slowly add olive oil and continue to mix. Add vinegar and salt, mix, taste, and add more as needed. Blend mixture until smooth – it should ultimately have a texture similar to non-crunchy, organic peanut butter.
*Ñora can be substituted for broiled red bell peppers or other dried red pepper varieties like choricero or pasilla – I used choricero pepper for my romesco.