Romesco Sauce: Overcoming Red-Pepper Fear

Whole wheat shells with baby spinach and romesco sauce

I am not by and large a fan of roasted red peppers (also known as pimientos). They’re a little on the sweet side for a vegetable, it seems to me, and they’re slimy – that’s the real problem. Generally one encounters them either stuffed into a green olive or laid out in large, incisor-defying slices in your Italian sandwich. I have often found myself wondering about the most polite way of removing the two inches of roasted red pepper hanging from my between my teeth while I attempt to chew a bite of my lunch.

I know that I’m not alone in my red-pepper misgivings, but I am here to say: There is hope! The textural problems can be done away with completely and the red pepper transformed into a savory, elegant sauce, if only one has the tools for the job.

The tool in question is something to do your chopping and grinding; this is one sauce where a knife just won’t suffice. If you’ve got a food processor, this is it’s moment. If you’ve got a blender, it will serve. In fact, you can even pull this off with an immersion blender (every soup-cook’s best friend), if that’s all you’ve got. For that, however, a little extra knife work will be needed.

Romesco Sauce


  • Food processor, blender or immersion blender-and-deep-bowl
  • Sharp knife
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Grater (if you’re grating the cheese by hand)


  • Big pinch (3/4 t) kosher salt
  • Small pinch (1/4 t) freshly ground black pepper (a few good grinds)
  • 1/2 cup roasted almonds, chopped (non-roasted are fine, too, but not salted)
  • 1 fat clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (or Pecorino, or what-have-you)
  • 12 oz jar of roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 t sherry vinegar (red wine if you don’t have it)

Unblended Romesco

Combine everything in the bowl of your food processor and pulse or process until chunky-smooth. Chunky smooth is not an oxymoron; it is the correct description of this sauce. I have kept the grated cheese to the side and served the sauce to happy vegan dinner guests.

Blended Romesco

I first had it served over grilled skirt steak with Yukon gold potatoes and watercress salad. Right now I like it best served over whole wheat pasta tossed with baby spinach while the pasta is still very hot, so that the spinach has a chance to wilt just a little bit from the heat. I am sure that you can think of lots of other uses for it, and you should, because it is very healthy. Red peppers are full of Vitamins A and C, and there’s protein and healthy fats from the nuts and cheeses. The sauce is savory and satisfying, and ready in about as long as it took you to read this about it.

Go forth, and eat roasted red peppers. They are delicious.

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