Make Ahead

The Case of the Promiscuous Romesco

August 24, 2010
3 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 8, I hope
Author Notes

Romesco sauce is one of the secret weapons in my kitchen arsenal. Think of it as an unexpected drone strike next to your shellfish. It’s also pretty handy with pork or grilled onions. With a little crusty bread you are in the mood for love---well, except maybe for the onion part. —pierino

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: pierino is a spirited cook with a penchant for olive oil.
WHAT: A punchy, willful sauce that begs to brighten up anything on your plate.
HOW: After minimal amounts of chopping and roasting, it all ends with a quick blitz from a food processor.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This sauce is like our favorite black t-shirt: it goes with everything. And the very best part? You probably have all of the ingredients lurking in your pantry already. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 2 to 4 dried peppers of your choice, but I like Spanish ?oras* or cascabels
  • 2 slices stale, crusty bread
  • 1 bowl of cold water
  • 3/4 cup light Spanish olive oil, like Arbequina
  • 3 to 4 ounces marcona almonds
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled, and coarsely chopped
  • Sea salt
  1. For your romesco, cut the tops off of the peppers which you have soaked in that cold water for about two hours. Seed them and cut them roughly.
  2. Lightly toast the almonds. You can do this on the stovetop or in a sheet pan in the oven. I told you this was easy.
  3. Cut up your dried out bread into cubes, and then chop the garlic.
  4. Breathe deeply, this is not that hard.
  5. Place above ingredients in your food processor, and drizzle in olive oil and vinegar. Hit this with sea salt and there's your sauce.
  6. *Note: you can find ?oras online through La Española, but whatever dried pepper you use, please take note of the Scoville units. This is not a super-hot sauce. Peruvian dried peppers are just way too hot for this. The background character to romesco is almost floral.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Guillaume Léopold Duteaud
    Guillaume Léopold Duteaud
  • Franca
  • Das_Muller
  • pierino
  • boulangere
Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.

40 Reviews

Guillaume L. January 4, 2016
This is a great recipe but I was surprised to read "unexpected drone strike". I find that's very poor taste and really not something I would expect coming from food52 and your usually high standards.
Bill B. May 8, 2015
ñoras, thank you hardlikearmour!
Bill B. May 8, 2015
There's something strange about the way the pepper's name is rendering on my mac. Can someone please tell me how it's spelled? The first letter is shown as ? instead of a letter.
hardlikearmour May 8, 2015
Noras -- it's not your Mac, it's something that changed on the site since this recipe was posted. Pierino posted the recipe with a tilde over the n (ñ).
Franca November 15, 2014
I used 4 oz of bread and 1 cup of oil and it was nowhere near the consistency like in your picture. I think I will scale down on the bread next time. That being said, I don't know why I didn't try this sooner. Too delicious!
moseceltic June 23, 2013
Loved the Romesco sauce I had in Spain and look forward to trying this. Can you describe the bread better? Size of slices or perhaps ounces? Thanks!
pierino June 23, 2013
Moseceltic, you can use 1" thick slices from a baguette or boule of white yeast bread. It doesn't require much, really only about 8-10 ounces when it's all torn up. It does need to be on the stale side.
moseceltic June 24, 2013
Many thanks!
arcane54 June 17, 2013
This is an amazing sauce. My first use was on a BLT! I used cascabels sourced from a local market that specializes in Mexican and Central American foodstuffs. It has a wee bit of heat -- just enough to awaken the taste buds. I used Trader Joe's "Spanish" olive oil and will try to find something that's more specifically from Arbequina olives. Perhaps another reason to travel south to California...
Das_Muller December 22, 2012

Made a couple batches for Christmas presents.
pierino December 15, 2012
More notes: since I first wrote this recipe I've begun using California olive oils in place of the Spanish variety. Arbequina is a Catalonian cultivar which has become seriously popular in California. One of the easiest to find comes from California Olive Ranch, but there are other small production oils that are really great. As of about a month ago I started working in the olive oil biz so I get to taste this stuff everyday. They are harvesting and pressing right now.
boulangere December 23, 2012
Lucky you.
boulangere December 14, 2012
buddhawasahindu December 12, 2012
Love mussels in romesco, going to use this. Thank you!
Meatballs&Milkshakes December 11, 2012
congrats on being a finalist! i'm going to have to try with your pepper suggestions!
wssmom December 10, 2012
The powers that be at Food52 have declined to give me credit, but here is the review that steered them to this recipe:We weren't quite sure what the name of this recipe meant until we tried it - this stuff gets around! First, we made a batch and served it alongside some baked fish filets. Even though we didn't have to, we made another batch and served it with some grilled vegetables. Then we prepared some more and dunked some crusty bread in it. A fourth go-round wound up in the turkey carcass soup we made after Thanksgiving. Tonight's version will be slathered atop crab cakes. Talk about wanton and wild!! Wow! The only change we might eventually make will be to try it with roasted garlic instead of raw garlic, but then it wouldn't be quite so promiscuous!
Bevi December 15, 2012
Thanks for posting your review - it's nice to know all the ways you enjoyed Pierino's recipe!
zoemetro U. December 15, 2012
This is what food 52 is all about "the powers that be" are you. ;-))
lapadia December 15, 2012
Your review broadens the horizon for Romesco, thanks for that, wssmom! And, great recipe Pierino, thanks for that :)
fiveandspice December 7, 2012
Congratulations on being a finalist! It's hard to beat romesco. Delicious on everything!
QueenSashy December 6, 2012
Love the dish - a true homage to stale bread!
pierino December 6, 2012
I guess now and forever my reputation will be linked to stale bread. Oh well...
MileHiCook December 6, 2012
What a great recipe. Thank you Pierino!
Greenstuff December 6, 2012
I was really pleased to see that this recipe was a finalist. I'd thought it might be ignored, because it's "just" a romesco sauce. What makes it special is pierino's specifying such great ingredients. So don't stint, FOOD52-ers. Or if you do, don't say, "I tried that romesco sauce, and it wasn't anything special."
hardlikearmour December 6, 2012
Congratulations! It's a great recipe.
drbabs December 6, 2012
I'm so happy that you're a finalist! Congratulations! I love this recipe.
inpatskitchen December 6, 2012
Congrats on the finalist status! So nice to see you getting recognition you so well deserve!
dymnyno December 6, 2012
I LOVE this! Congrats for being a finalist.