The one flavor that will live on from our travels to Barcelona, is Spanish romesco sauce. Traditional romesco is made from roasted red peppers, almonds (or other nuts), sherry vinegar, onions, garlic, and oil. The red sauce is as vibrant as the Catalonia flag and the pride that fills this Spanish region.
While the sauce originally intended to be served with fish, I think it’s good on just about anything. While in Spain, I enjoyed it on roasted veggies once and squid another time. The lightly cooked squid rings in the luscious sauce was the dish that completely won my heart.
The story behind that one meal is one worth sharing. We always try to avoid touristy restaurants during our travels, finding recommended hidden gems is more our style, but it was getting late one afternoon and we were lunch-less with a hungry toddler in tow. We ventured as far out as we could from the tourist attraction we were near but probably only got a block or two in reality. Then we stumbled upon a small plaza without a lot of traffic and with a few food options. We glanced at the menu, filled with the tourist prices, and gave in. Maybe it was the hunger or the warm heating elements around the outdoor seating that quickly convinced us. The very unfriendly waiter, took our orders and I tried to not pout about having to succumb to tourist dining. Of course, in my prideful state, I went on to have what would be for me, the best taste of our trip. The squid was cooked perfectly, not chewy at all, and was in the most amazing sauce I’d ever tasted. We had to ask for bread so as to not waste even a drop of this flavor packed dish. Humbled, I went on with my day satisfied.
While I love traveling for a variety of reasons, I especially love the inspiration that it gives me in my own kitchen. This sauce will forever remind me of our special family trip to Barcelona and that meal at the over priced and under serviced tourist restaurant.
- 2 roasted red bell peppers*
- 2-3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
- 1/2 cup tomato puree
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2-3/4 cup olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Blend together all of the ingredients then slowly add the oil to preference of thickness (the more oil the thinner the sauce will be).
Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with fresh seafood, roasted vegetables, pasta, gnocchi, or just toasted bread!
You can use roasted red bell peppers from a jar or roast them in the oven under the broiler (on high for 2-3 min per side). Once they're charred on all sides place them in a paper bag until they cool then peel the skin off and remove the stem and seeds.