Dublin Romesco

Romesco  is a delicious sauce that goes with fish, meat, vegetables… or a spoon and some privacy.
It originated in the coastal region of Catalunya with two main varieties, the fishermen’s one – with dry bread, and the peasant’s one – with almonds, according to whatever was easily on hand. Nowadays most recipes include both ingredients. Romesco  is very popular and there are as many variants as households making it, so feel free to tweak the recipe to your taste.
If you are going to Spain, particularly Catalunya, nyora peppers would make a nice souvenir. They are available dried or in jars (pulp only, so you cut down the preparation time). You could also buy the readymade sauce but I find that most brands have far too much tomatoe and not enough nuts.
I have two different recipes for romesco: “just-back-from-home” or “Dublin-shopping”. These two versions  do not taste exactly the same but they both hit the spot. As I cannot get nyora peppers in Dublin, I substitute them for dried ancho chilies. The “just back” recipe is nuttier as there is no bread but the “Dublin shopping” one is speedier and spicier. Also, the proportions are slightly different, as ancho peppers are bigger, fleshier and spicier than nyora peppers as you can see from the picture.

Nyora and ancho peppers

I don’t like it too hot so I tone them down with extra red peppers and more bread.
When fresh red peppers are not in season (or I find them wrinkly and expensive), red peppers from a jar work nicely too, just mind the amount of vinegar you add to the romesco, as the brine might be quite strong.
Feel free to combine both recipes to suit your taste: you will become a fully fledged romescaire in no time!

Dublin romesco sauce (500 g) Just back romesco sauce
  • 1 Ancho chile pepper, dried (30 g rehydrated)
  • 3 Garlic cloves, unpeeled (15 g)
  • 2 Tomatoes (150 g)
  • 2 Red peppers, fresh or tinned (175 g)
  • 2 Slices of (decent) bread (60 g)
  • 1 Handful ground almonds (20 g)
  • 1 Handful ground hazelnuts (20 g)
  • Olive oil as needed (25 g)
  • Vinegar to taste
  • Salt and pepper taste
  • 4 Nyora peppers, dried
  • 3 Garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 2 Tomatoes
  • 1 Small red pepper
  • 2 Handfuls almonds, shelled but unpeeled
  • 2 Handfuls hazelnuts, shelled but unpeeled
  • Olive oil as needed
  • Vinegar to taste
  • Salt and pepper taste

The weights above do not need to be exact, this is a very flexible recipe!

Dublin romesco ingredients

  1. Pierce the tip of the dried peppers and soak them in a bowl of hot water for about 15 minutes, weighed down with a smaller bowl or dish.
  2. In a hot oven (180 C), roast the fresh red peppers along with the tomatoes and garlic cloves (or use leftovers from escalivada). On a separate tray, toast the almonds and hazelnuts: about 10 minutes if they are whole, about 5 minutes if they are ground.
  3. Fry the bread (if using it) in some olive oil and set aside. If oil-conscious, toast it.
  4. Peel the garlic, tomatoes and peppers (and the whole nuts for the “Just back” recipe). The peppers, both soaked and roasted, should be peeled and deseeded. The easiest way to peel the soaked ones is to place them on a chopping board, open them flesh side up and scrape the pulp out.
  5. Blend all these ingredients together until you have a coarse paste (don’t forget the bread!). If you need to spend some energy, go traditional and use a mortar and pestle.
  6. Season to taste with vinegar, salt and pepper and incorporate enough olive oil to get thick sauce.

Make it yours:

  • Fry the garlic and the nuts along with the bread
  • Keep some of the garlic raw
  • Add pimentón  for a smoky taste and pimentón picante  for a hotter smoky taste
  • Blend in some roasted onion
  • Add more tomatoes and call it salvitxada [sal-vit-shah-dah] instead of romesco [roo-mes-coo]  to… impress your friends!
  • Share with your (impressed) friends: double or triple the recipe and use a Thermomix to save time cooking and washing up. Let me know if you want the full instructions for Thermomix!