Why Sliced Almonds Are Key To Making The Smoothest Romesco Sauce

If you're not familiar with romesco sauce, you're probably not alone. This Spanish condiment may not be quite as well-known as hollandaise, marinara, or remoulade, nor is it really comparable to any other well-known sauce. While it has a tomato base, it differs from a more standard spaghetti-type sauce in the fact that it is also flavored with almonds, hazelnuts, or pine nuts along with smoked paprika, red peppers, crushed red pepper, toasted breadcrumbs, and sherry vinegar.

Developer Kristen Carli has come up with a simple five-minute version of this Spanish sauce, omitting the pepper flakes and breadcrumbs and swapping sherry vinegar for the more readily available red wine kind. To give her romesco sauce recipe its signature nuttiness, she opts for almonds alone, preferring the raw kind to the toasted ones that some other recipes call for. One shortcut Carli uses that helps keep the prep time short is to use sliced almonds instead of starting with whole almonds that may need to be blanched. As she explains, "They are already pre-chopped which helps the blending process in the food processor." As for the appliance, she favors it over the blender as she feels that "Food processors are ideal for blending sauces of this volume."

What to do with your super-smooth romesco

Once you have your smooth and nutty romesco sauce, what should you do with it? Carli, who described the sauce as "smoky, nutty, [and] bright red," tells us that it "can be served in a variety of ways." Among her suggestions are to use it on cooked vegetables (she's partial to cauliflower) or over a mixture of cooked greens and pasta.

Romesco sauce isn't just for vegetables, though. You can actually swap it out for either pesto or hummus in some recipes since its consistency (although not its flavor) is somewhat similar to both. It can also serve as a sandwich spread or a dip for pita triangles or crudites or you could use it to thicken soups. Try it atop a flatbread pizza with manchego and Spanish-style chorizo to make an Iberian-style pizza or do as Bobby Flay does and scramble it with eggs and goat cheese. If you want to put romesco to use in the most traditional of ways, however, you'll need to use it as a sauce for fish since it was created for this purpose by 18th-century Catalonian fishermen who'd gotten tired of eating their catch without condiments.