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The confident cook

Recipe: Spanish romesco sauce, whirred with tomatoes and peppers, is incredibly appealing

Romesco sauce
Romesco sauce(Sheryl Julian for The Boston Globe)

Romesco, an incredibly appealing, persimmon-colored sauce, made with tomatoes and dried chile peppers, originated in Catalonia but is on cafe menus all over Spain, served with an array of seasonal vegetables. It’s easy to make, inexpensive, and delicious.

Traditional recipes use tomatoes, dried nora peppers from Spain, ground almonds, and bread. The tomatoes are charred before whirring in a food processor. Here, instead of the traditional chiles, we use pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika) and a charred, peeled red bell pepper to give the sauce some heft. Add garlic to the baking dish when you char the tomatoes and peppers under a broiler, which mellows the cloves. Grind the bread and almonds in a food processor, then add the smoky paprika, sherry vinegar, crushed red pepper for some heat, and olive oil.

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Blending them takes minutes and it can be done in advance; in fact, the sauce improves if it’s refrigerated for a day. Cut up an array of vegetables (steam green beans, broccoli, and cauliflower for a few minutes) and arrange them on a platter. For very little effort, you’ve got a stunning presentation.

Sheryl Julian

Romesco sauce

Makes 1¾ cups

The mixture should be loose but not soupy; it should hold its shape. If necessary, add another slice of bread, cut up, through the feed tube (the sauce in the food processor will splatter, so keep the top of the tube covered).

1large tomato, cored and halved
1red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and halved
2cloves garlic, halved
¼cup slivered almonds
3slices (½-inch thick) baguette or other narrow crusty loaf, cut into ½-inch pieces
½teaspoon crushed red pepper
½teaspoon pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika) or sweet paprika
2tablespoons sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar
½teaspoon salt, or more to taste
2tablespoons olive oil

1. Turn on the broiler. Set a rack about 6 inches from the element.

2. In a baking dish, spread out the tomatoes, bell pepper, and garlic, cut sides down. Slide the dish under the broiler and cook for 6 minutes, checking halfway through cooking, or until all the skins are soft and starting to char. Remove the garlic after 3 minutes if it is charred.

3. Remove the vegetables from the broiler; set aside to cool.

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4. Meanwhile, in a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the almonds, turning often, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until they are aromatic; cool.

5. With your fingers, remove and discard the skins from the tomato and bell pepper. Chop the flesh coarsely.

6. In a food processor, pulse the bread until it forms crumbs. Add the almonds and continue to pulse until they are finely chopped. Add the tomatoes, bell pepper, garlic, crushed pepper, pimenton or paprika, vinegar, and ½ teaspoon salt. Pulse until the mixture is smooth. With the motor running, add the olive oil through the feed tube.

7. Taste for seasoning and add more vinegar or salt, if you like. Transfer to a bowl and serve with crudites and lightly blanched vegetables. Sheryl Julian


Sheryl Julian can be reached at sheryl.julian@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @sheryljulian.