Romesco sauce with smoked paprika is one of the most delicious sauces I’ve ever eaten. There is something about the sweet capsicums, the tart tomatoes, the caramelised garlic, all blended together with roasted nuts, smoked paprika and sharp vinegar that makes it irresistible! Did you know that the sauce originates from Catalonia in Spain? It was traditionally ground with a mortar and pestle to serve with the fishermen’s catch of the day.
There are also many variations of romesco sauce. Some include stale bread. Some include chilli flakes. Others include combinations of nuts. However, I’ve found that as long as there is a combination of roasted garlic, capsicums, tomatoes (big or small) with nuts, vinegar and a green herb, you can’t go wrong. Many recipes recommend grilling the capsicums until the skin blackens and then peel it off, which delivers a delicious smoky flavour. I find this a bit fiddly (but worth the effort if you have the time and the inclination). Instead, I add a bit of smoked paprika. Plus, there’s one less thing to throw out.
Romesco sauce is remarkably versatile, too. Serve it with drizzled over the top of roasted cauliflower, grilled broccolini or steamed greens beans. Use it as an accompaniment for poached chicken breasts, grilled chicken thighs or barbequed lamb. Why not try your romesco as a dipping sauce for home-made sweet potato fries?
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Romesco Sauce with Smoked Paprika
- 4 Roma tomtaoes, washed and quartered lengthways (substitute with cherry tomatoes)
- 2 red capsicums, washed
- 4 cloves garlic, skin on
- 1/2 cup raw almonds, plus a few extra for garnish (substitute with hazelnuts or walnuts)
- 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, plus a few extra leaves for garnish (substitute with curly parsley or rocket)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oill
- 3 Tbsp sherry vinegar (substitute with red wine vinegar)
- 1 tsp mild smoked paprika (or hot if you like it spicy)
- flaked sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced).
- Lay almonds out flat and roast until dark and aromatic, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Increase the oven temperature to 220°C (200°C fan-forced).
- Line a baking dish and arrange tomatoes, cut side up. Sprinkle a little salt on the tomatoes. Arrange the tomatoes alongside the garlic and capsicums. This way, if one ingredient is ready before the other, it can be removed easily. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes until the tomatoes are wrinkled and a little blackened. The capsicum skin will be darker red and blistered. Remove from the oven.
- When cool enough to handle, twist the tops of the capsicums gently away from the body. The seeds chould come out easily this way (with a bit of liquid). Remove any remaining seeds and roughly chop the capsicums.
- Squeeze the garlic cloves gently so that the cloves slip out of their skins.
- Mix all the ingredients briefly with a handheld blender, so as to have a mixture with a a few chunks in it.
- Taste it. You might like to add a little more vinegar, salt, or smoked paprika.
- Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. The sauce is suitable to freeze.