Traditional Spanish Romesco Sauce is more precisely a Catalan region sauce. It’s basically a nutty sauce with loads of roasted veggies that go with any grilled meat, fish, egg, or vegetable. It contains roasted tomatoes, garlic, hazelnut, almond, and red pepper with a touch of paprika. A healthy, sugar-free condiment for BBQ season!
Spanish Romesco Sauce is a great substitute for Ketchup, mayo, and mustard because it’s a sensational sauce you can use pretty much everywhere and contains only vitamins and sun! Vivid orange Romesco sauce is low in sugar, preservatives, enhancers, salt, or artificial anything; this sauce is highly recommended for any BBQs where ketchup is not invited! Serve it with any meat, poultry, or even fries! Healthy never tasted better!
This Traditional Romesco Sauce originates from Tarragona, about an hour south of Barcelona, Spain. The chances are… if you visit and try any restaurant on the city outskirts, you’ll end up with romesco sauce on your plate. It’s generally eaten with grilled meat, fish, or veggies but is also sometimes found on their famous patatas bravas with some aïoli.
In the winter months, Catalans love to make Calçotadas, a massive mid-afternoon meal. A sprout onion is charred until burned, sliding off the burned peal and dipping the tender part of the onion in romesco or Salvitxada sauce, which is similar. But, being in Barcelona for ten years now, these two sauces are the same! Some say the nut amount changes, others say the type of pepper used is different, or again, the bread added to the sauce is what makes it different, but frankly, it’s the same.
These onions are laborious to grow and the pride of Catalonia for a reason! The technique involves dumping the onions directly over the fire and burning them entirely. Don’t think about cleaning them up beforehand…. no! No! No! They need this layer of dirt to protect them from the flames and keep the inside moist.
Once the calçots blackened, they are wrapped up in a few layers of newspapers and put to rest for about 30 minutes to let the residual heat do the rest of the work. You end up with a delectable tender and melting core, but to get to that core, you’ll need to use your hand to pull down the burned layer and then plop the onion directly in the Romesco sauce. After all those steps, you’ll get the reward you deserve: a tender and sweet onion with a bright orange thick Spanish Romesco Sauce that will haunt you forever! In a good way, of course.
The whole process is quite messy, meaning your hands will get dirty, and if you are lucky, you won’t stain anything else… On a personal note… my first calçotada was a surprise from my friend on my wedding day! White was not the color for the occasion! Well, it was like a ‘trash the dress’ event, the Catalan way. Who knows… maybe it’s the secret to a happy marriage.
A Great Alternative
This nutty and unctuous sauce is the ketchup of the Catalans; they put it on everything, and believe me, it’s delicious! Especially with grilled green asparagus, fried artichoke, BBQ wings, and meat, or you could try it as your new ketchup in a burger. This summer, make this romesco sauce your +1 at the party!
Other Recipes with Romesco
Spanish Romesco Sauce
- 5 tomatoes (ripe)
- 150 ml olive oil (extra virgin, approx.)
- 80 g almonds (roasted and skinless)
- 50 g hazelnuts (roasted and skinless)
- 50 ml white wine vinegar
- 1 small slice of dry bread (or 25g of breadcrumbs)
- 1 garlic (the whole head)
- 1 small sweet red pepper (or bell)
- 1 tsp sweet and/or spicy paprika
- salt and pepper
- Cut the garlic head into two and fold it onto the aluminum paper.
- Add the tomatoes and pepper in the oven to max temperature and cook for 20 minutes, or until skin burns, turning mid-way.
- Leave the garlic head in the oven for 10-15 minutes while the tomato and pepper cool off.
- Blend the nuts and the dry bread in a food processor, add in a bowl and reserve.
- Discard the burned skin of the tomatoes and add them to the blended nuts.
- With the help of a knife, scrape the inside of the pepper, discard the skin, stem and seeds and add the pulp to the mix.
- The garlic is tender, so unwrap it and let it cool for a few minutes before squeezing it with your hands into the mix.
- Add the salt, pepper, paprika, and olive oil.
- Blend until smooth.
- Add the vinegar (to taste) and more olive oil until the right consistency.
- Check the seasoning and serve.