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Recipe: Romesco Is One of the World’s Great Sauces

How to make a Spanish classic

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Phaidon

This sauce is the one-hit wonder your fish or lamb — or chicken, steak, vegetables, or even eggs — needs. Romesco hails from Catalonia, along the Northeastern coast of Spain, and not only is it a lovely shade of red, it’s extremely flavorful and warming, but not hot, with a hint of sweetness and a touch of acidity. It complements all proteins extremely well, and even works as a dip for vegetables.

Here’s a romesco recipe from LA chef Jeremy Fox’s new cookbook, On Vegetables. Fox’s recipes may look a little bit intimidating to some cooks: He’s a meticulous chef; his food can be extremely precise. But keep in mind that this sauce is forgiving. No hazelnuts on hand? Use all almonds. Don’t have blanched almonds? Almonds with their skins on will work, too. Allergic to nuts? Omit them. Don’t want to roast your own red peppers? Buy them in a jar. No food processor? Chop the nuts by hand, whir the peppers, tomatoes, and chile paste in a blender, and then mash everything together in a bowl with a wooden spoon.

Store the romesco in a covered container in your fridge and then go crazy — try it on every savory thing you eat for the next week.

Romesco

Makes: 3 cups (710 ml)

Romesco sauce is basically ketchup of Spain. It is great with Patatas Bravas, (page 219), roasted sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes), fried eggs with roasted scallions (spring onions), and Potato Beignets (page 214). It’s really quite versatile, and I find that it pairs nicely with Aioli (page 265).

INGREDIENTS

guajillo paste
4 ounces (115 g) dried guajillo chilies, stemmed and seeded
romesco
2 ounces (60 g) blanched almonds, toasted
2 ounces (60 g) blanched hazelnuts, toasted
8 ounces (225 g) Roasted Peppers
8 ounces (228 g) canned whole tomatoes, drained
½ cup (120 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for storing
2 tablespoons minced garlic (germ removed)
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon smoked paprika (pimenton)
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

INSTRUCTIONS
make the guajillo paste
Soak the chilies in warm water for 1 to 2 hours, until they soften. Transfer the chilies to a blender along with ¾ cup (180 ml) of the soaking water and blend on low speed at first, gradually raising it to high speed, until smooth. Transfer to an airtight container, cover, and refrigerate for up to 4 weeks.

make the romesco
In a food processor, pulse the almonds and hazelnuts enough to get a nice chop—we’re not looking for nut butter, but a breadcrumb-like consistency. Transfer the nuts to a large bowl. Add the peeled peppers and tomatoes to the food processor and pulse to incorporate. Add the mixture to the bowl with the nuts, then fold in the guajillo paste, olive oil, garlic, vinegar, and paprika. Season with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, plus more to taste if needed. The final result should be a rough, textured sauce. Transfer the romesco to an airtight container, cover with a layer of olive oil, and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

NOTE: The guajillo chili paste can be made hours, or even days, in advance. Just give yourself time to soak the chilies for at least an hour.

Adapted from On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen by Jeremy Fox; Phaidon, April 2017.

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