Romesco is a smokey, thick red pesto of sorts originating from Catelonia. Typically made with roasted tomatoes and/or peppers, hazelnuts, and almonds. This recipe calls for toasted walnuts, but you can just as easily sub with a different nut or combination of nuts. I’ve included instructions here for roasting fresh tomatoes and peppers, which, if you have the time, will fill your kitchen with delightfully sweet and smokey aromas and produce a slightly mellower, less acidic sauce. But if you are pressed you can just as easily opt for canned, roasted tomatoes and jarred, marinated peppers. If you do so, be sure to drain the tomatoes of excess liquid and rinse the peppers of their marinade.
Ingredients: 3 (about 12 oz) medium Roma tomatoes, cored OR 12 oz canned, roasted Roma tomatoes, drained 1 red bell pepper OR 1 jarred, marinated red bell pepper, rinsed 3/4 cup walnuts 3 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed thick piece of stale bread, torn, about 1 cup (leftover from a baguette or other nice loaf) 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional) 1 teaspoon sweet paprika 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
Scatter the cored tomatoes onto the baking sheet and roast for about an hour, until the kitchen is filled with a jammy-sweet scent and they are shriveled all over and lightly charred in places. Remove from the oven and let cool. If using canned tomatoes, skip this step.
While the tomatoes roast, heat a burner on your stovetop over medium heat and sit the bell pepper directly on top of the burner. Using tongs, turn the pepper every couple minutes or so, until the skin is blackened all over (about 8-10 minutes). Take off the heat and transfer to a pot with a tight fitting lid. Allow to rest, covered, for at least 10 minutes. If using jarred pepper, skip this step.
Scatter the walnuts on a baking sheet and toss with a little bit of olive oil and salt. Roast in the oven for about 5-7 minutes, tossing a few times, until fragrant and just turning golden. Remove from the oven and let cool.
After the tomatoes have cooled, peel and discard the skin.
Run the scorched pepper under the faucet and remove the thin layer of charred skin. It should rub off very easily. Remove the stem and seeds.
Add the garlic to the food processor and pulse a few times to mince. Add the walnuts, bread, pepper flakes (if using) and paprika, pulsing until you have a uniform, breadcrumb-like mixture.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the roasted tomatoes, bell pepper, parsley, and a little salt and pepper. Process until smooth and, with the machine still running, slowly drizzle in the vinegar and then the oil. Continue processing until smooth and pale. Taste and adjust seasoning. You should have a thick, creamy sauce.
Serve over roasted potatoes, on crusty toast, alongside a nice piece of steak or fish, or as a dip for raw veggies, etc. Store in a jar in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze in an an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge or in the microwave in a pinch.