This is a red pepper and tomato sauce with Spanish influences, she said, trying to throw in the keywords that Lee’s most likely to use when looking up this recipe…
1 14.5-oz can of chopped tomatoes (may be some left over, reserve for another use) or the equivalent of 6 Roma tomatoes
1 roasted red pepper (about 1/2c from a jar or you can roast your own), halved and seeds/stem removed as necessary
12 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 c olive oil
1 slice bread (the crustier and chewier the better)
1/2c sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1/2 c toasted almonds
1 t Spanish paprika
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes (or more)
salt to taste
Right, you have two options here: the DIY method or the from-a-can method.
DIY: preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheet with tinfoil, dump olive oil on it, put halved tomatoes, red pepper, and garlic on the baking sheet, roast for 15-20 minutes or until mushy and just slightly caramelized. You could also roast the pepper over a gas or charcoal flame, but that’s beyond the scope of this recipe.
From-a-can: pull out about half a cup of jarred roasted red peppers and about 8-10 ounces of tomatoes and juice from the can of tomatoes. Drop the peeled garlic cloves in a dish with the olive oil and nuke on medium high until the cloves are mushy, about 4-5 minutes on medium heat.
The rest of this recipe applies to both options.
Take the half cup of almonds, spread them out on a small saute pan and toast them over low-medium heat until they smell toasty. If they look positively burnt you’ve gone too far. Remove the almonds from heat and toast the bread in the same pan to the same doneness. You might then toast the paprika and then (separately) the red pepper flakes the same way if you’re feeling ambitious.
Everything’s going into a blender or food processor at this point. But start with the peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil first just to give you a fairly wet base. Then add the almonds, paprika, and the bread, blend to a consistent but not smooth consistency, and taste. Add some salt and vinegar, a little at a time, until you’re happy with the taste, more or less. If the sauce is too thick, add more tomatoes. If too thin, try another half-slice of toasted bread. Taste again for salt/vinegar. Finally, add a few pepper flakes and see how that does ya. Secret ingredient: pinch of sugar. Only add that if you feel like it’s too sour, though, and not more than a pinch.
In the end, the flavor should be not too garlicky (if it’s too garlicky, the garlic cloves weren’t cooked enough), fairly tart, almost kind of buttery from the almonds and the olive oil/garlic combo. It should have a pretty full body. If you put ketchup at one end of a spectrum and mashed potatoes at the other, romesco should be around halfway to mashed potatoes. The sauce holds up well in the fridge for a few days, and goes well with pretty much anything as a pasta sauce, dip, or sauce for meats.