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February 25, 2013

Romesco Sauce

Romesco is a classic Spanish sauce, originating from the city of Tarragona in Catalonia, in Northeastern Spain. Said to have been created by fishermen, it is indeed elegant with most types of fish. I am craving it right now mixed with freshly shelled and cooked Maine shrimp, dolloped on top of a nice piece of pan roasted halibut fillet.

To make a Romesco Sauce, you’ll need tomatoes, almonds, red bell peppers, some smoked paprika, dry rustic bread, red wine vinegar, sea salt, and plenty of garlic. While these items are not really in season now, good Maine fish and shellfish certainly is, so maybe we can excuse the travesty of cooking with unseasonal ingredients…just this once…in order to enjoy this sauce on Maine’s winter seafood bounty.

Think of Romesco as another type of pesto and as a healthy snack. It makes up easily and keeps several days in the fridge. Nice simply spread on crostini.

romesco-close-up
image courtesy of Michelle Madden at The Sweet Beet

Romesco Sauce
Laura Cabot, Laura Cabot Catering, Waldoboro

1/4 cup olive oil
1 inch thick slice of dry, crusty bread, torn into pieces
6 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon good salt
1/2 cup raw almonds
1 pound of tomato concasse (blanched, peeled and seeded, chopped)
2 large red peppers, charred and roasted in the oven, cooled and charred skin and seeds removed
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
A grind of fresh pepper
A few springs of fresh fennel leaves.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium saute pan, add the oil, bread and almonds, stirring until they brown slightly.

Add the contents of the saute pan to a cuisinart with the roasted bell peppers, tomato concasse, smoked paprika, seasonings, and vinegar.

Puree until smooth.

Spread the sauce out on a cookie sheet with an edge and bake for 15 minutes or until the edges caramelize.

Cool and scrape into a container to store.

If well sealed, this sauce will last for over a week. It also freezes well. You may make it without the bread for a gluten free option, just use a few more nuts to thicken the paste. Romesco is a sunny take on a Maine winter meal, so bring Spain to your neighborhood tonight!

Yields 1 1/2 cups.

Laura Cabot is an MF&L columnist and blogger, a French trained chef with a long career as a chef/restaurant owner, and president of Laura Cabot Catering in Waldoboro.

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