Originally from Catalonia, in Spain, it’s made from red peppers and almonds, and traditionally served over seafood. It’s sweet, spicy and smoky — and terrific.
Why to love it: “Romesco sauce is the epitome of contrasting flavors and textures,” says Jodi Bernhard, executive chef at Fortina in Armonk, where she makes it with hazelnuts, and serves it over roasted cauliflower. “The creaminess of blending red peppers and contrasting with the crunch of nut in there, a nice little transition from the sherry vinegar and the pungency of the garlic, it’s just this great burst of flavors.”
Make it your own: Use hazelnuts or walnuts instead of almonds. Experiment with different peppers, like Fresno, pimento or even ancho.
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This recipe, from Fortina chef Jodi Bernhard, replaces almonds with hazelnuts, and adds Fresno peppers along with the roasted red peppers.
- 1 cup garlic cloves
- 1 cup olive oil
- 6 red peppers, roasted and peeled
- 2 Fresno peppers, roasted and peeled
- 1/2 loaf of peasant-style Italian bread
- 1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- First, make garlic confit: combine garlic and oil in a medium saucepan and simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes. The garlic should be tender but not brown. Measure 1/2 cup for this recipe. (Store extra garlic cloves in oil in the refrigerator for up to 1 month; they are great spread on toast or used as a flavoring for roast chicken. Bring to room temperature before using.)
- To roast the red and Fresno peppers, broil them until the skins are blackened. Slip the skins off and seed and roughly chop the peppers.
- Prepare the bread, cut the loaf into 3-inch pieces, cut off the crust, brush it with olive oil, then grill or broil until the tops are brown and toasty.
- To toast the hazelnuts, heat them in a dry skillet over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes until they just begin to release their aroma and become light brown.
- Place garlic confit, red and Fresno peppers, bread, hazelnuts, smoked paprika and sherry vinegar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Pulse to combine. Turn on the food processor and slowly drizzle in the olive oil to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper to taste.