Romesco is like pesto's neglected second cousin. Both start with a blend of nuts and raw garlic, but then romesco veers off on its own path with roasted red peppers and a hit of spicy heat. Romesco might not be as hip or as trendy, but we've got plenty of ways to use it on the dinner table.
With a name like romeesco, you'd think that this sauce was also of Italian origin. In fact, it hails from the city of Tarragona in Spain. This is a coastal town, so it's not surprising to see romesco sauce spooned over grilled fish or served as a dipping sauce for shrimp.
Hazelnuts, pine nuts, almonds, or a mix of any of these are most typical nuts in romesco sauce. When blended with the red peppers, the sauce becomes creamy and thick with a rich nutty-sweet flavor. Raw garlic, a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne, and a splash of red-wine vinegar all give the sauce its heat and tangy edge.
Along with fish and shellfish, this sauce is fantastic with pork chops, grilled vegetables, and roasted chicken. It can also make a quick pasta sauce or add some interest to a mid-week sandwich. You could even use a few spoonfuls to add richness to a gazpacho - or thin it out with broth for a soup all its own.
Check out these recipes:
• Romesco Sauce from Martha Stewart
• Roast Chicken Breasts with Romesco Sauce from Martha Stewart
• Halibut in Hazelnut Romesco with Potatoes from Bon Appeétit
• Grilled Green Onions with Romesco from Saveur
Pesto might always win the popularity contest, but we'll definitely keep making the case for romesco!
(Image: Martha Stewart)