Romesco Sauce: The Spanish Red Pesto

While experimenting with my arugula and walnut pesto, I was wondering what ingredients I should put together to get a red pesto. Immediately red peppers came to my mind. Pesto is whatever herb or vegetable you can muddle with nuts and oil, I thought…

The following day, I found a piece of rustic bread, hard as a rock, in my kitchen counter top. I’m not used to putting food in the trash. I was raised with the idea that it’s a mortal sin. I still can hear my Grandma Ligia lecturing about people starving somewhere and how shameful it was to waste food.
Every time a baguette is getting old, I either do bruschettas, croutons or process it to make bread crumbs… As usual, I saved that hard piece of bread, but not for a long time: that very day, I got a six pack of beautiful crispy red bell peppers… and again, the red pesto came to my mind.
So I decided to google it and discovered what Catalans call romesco sauce. Bingo! Originally from Tarragona, in Catalonia, Spain, it is mostly a mélange of roasted red pepper, tomatoes, bread, almonds or hazelnuts, pureed with olive oil and roasted garlic. It’s mostly eaten with fish but I think it goes perfect with pasta, as a dip, over grilled or toasted rustic bread or over roasted potatoes.
I found recipes adding paprika and also vinegar. I didn't think it was necesary. This was so good, that I just wrote the recipe to post it. To taste this pesto romesco (isn’t the name cool?) is to fall for it. 
Thick, mildly garlicky, the roasted peppers and tomatoes work very nice with the toasted almonds in this olive oil infused wonder. I hope you like it.
Pesto Romesco | Ingredients for 2 cups
3 Tbs. of olive oil
2 red bell peppers
3 medium tomatoes
8 garlic cloves pressed with the blade of a knife
¾ cup of sliced almonds
1cup of crusty bread cut into pieces
¾ cup of extra virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the peppers and tomatoes with olive oil, and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes and turn the vegetables. Bake for 15 minutes more. Take the sheet out of the oven and let cool down.

In a pan over low to medium heat, add the 3 tbs. of olive oil and sauté the garlic until golden, 1-2 minutes. Add the almonds, stir and cook for 2 minutes. Add the bread and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. Set aside. Peel the peppers and tomatoes. Take away the vains of the peppers and discard them with the seeds of both peppers and tomatoes.

In a food processor, process the peppers, tomatoes with the garlic, almond and bread mix. Add salt to taste. While processing, add the extra virgin olive oil and process until it gets a thick puree consistency.

To print the recipe click here.

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