You are either a sauce person or your not! I have always been committed to the sauce. From the beginning of my culinary adventures there always seemed to be a good reason to put something on everything. In the earlier years, that often meant rich, heavy, calorie-laden sauces that often hid the flavor of whatever it was covering. Today, I am still dedicated to team sauce. However, I have found there are many ways to highlight the natal flavor of foods and elevate a dish without so many extra calories. (Mayonnaise on french fries is the exception. That’s just good eating!)
This week’s dish features a traditional Spanish sauce called Romesco sauce. 45 million Spaniards can’t be wrong. There is a reason why this is the national sauce of Spain. It can be used as a marinade, a spread, a pesto, or a sauce with meats and vegetables alike. It’s the ultimate stand-by. You can find it bottled but, as with most things, it is far better freshly made. Luckily, it’s also super easy to make. Theres a reason Spaniards have been devouring this dish for centuries. It’s delicious! The flavor is a bit smoky from the char grilled bell peppers. It’s creamy and rich, yet contains no cream.
Today I’m using it as a grilling sauce on chicken. With 5 cloves of garlic in this recipe along with smoked paprika and roasted peppers the flavors seep into the chicken making it deliciously moist and tender. This dish pairs perfectly with Spanish red wine that complements the bold flavor of the sauce. Heinen’s is featuring some beautiful Spanish and Portuguese wines right now so the time is right for this recipe!
When roasting the red pepper, simply place the washed pepper directly on a burner with a high flame. Once the flesh starts to blacken, turn until all sides are charred.
Romesco sauce is traditionally used by Spanish fisherman as a sauce for cooked seafood. This sauce is a great way to enhance barbecue meats, vegetables and seafoods. It can also be used as a dip for chips, pretzels, vegetables, crackers and flatbreads. It works as a spread on crostini, sandwiches or burgers and as a sauce on pasta. You can stir in into soups or stews for added flavor and it can be used as a marinade that will form a crust on the exterior of roasted meats.
Spanish Romesco Sauce
- 2 red bell peppers (note 1)
- 1 tomato quartered
- 5 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 slices of white sandwich bread, crusts removed (note 2)
- 1/2 cup of natural almonds (note 3)
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Preheat barbecue grill or gas stove on high, and char grill whole red peppers until black and blistered all over. (note 4)
- Place peppers in a bowl and cover for at least 20 minutes. The peppers will cool and sweat, allowing the skin to slide off easily. Peel and discard the skin and seeds, place remaining pepper in a blender.
- Preheat oven to 350F° Place tomato and garlic on foil, drizzle with 2 tsp of olive oil and wrap tightly. Place foil packet on a baking sheet. Add bread and almonds onto the tray. Bake for 5 minutes until bread is golden. Remove bread and almonds.
- Tear bread into pieces and place the bread and almonds in the blender with the peppers.
- Continue to bake the garlic tomato packet for an additional 25 minutes or until tomato an garlic are tender. Open foil, dump contents into the blender. Add all remaining ingredients to the blender. Run blender on high until sauce is smooth, adjust salt and pepper to taste.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week
- You can use 1 1/2 cups of store bought bell peppers drained, it will not have the smoky flavor but it will be similar.
- This is one of the few times I use ordinary white sandwich bread because it blends easily into the sauce. To make this dish gluten free just use gluten free bread instead.
- You can use roasted almonds instead. Just toast them in the oven for a few minutes less.
- The char on the red pepper is how the smoky flavor makes it to the sauce. I just set the pepper directly onto the burner of my gas cooktop, leave it for a few minutes till it turns black. Turn with metal tongs and repeat until it is black all over. This can also be done outside on a barbecue grill.
The romesco sauce is also delicious on the grilled vegetables.
About the Author
Photographer Sally Roeckell specializes in contemporary lifestyle portraiture with an emphasis on food photography. Her Blog, Table and Dish is a website devoted to celebrating and curating the many ways that food binds us. Sally hopes that her recipes and images will inspire you to gather your friends and family in the kitchen to make memories, use the time to connect with busy kids, chat over mixing bowls, get messy, laugh, sing, set the table, clear the table, pass the salt, debate the days topics and pray. You can follow her here as a weekly contributor to 365Barrington and Heinen’s as well as via Table and Dish on Instagram and on her website at TableAndDish.com.
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