Kitchen secrets: romesco


Photograph: Joe Woodhouse
A Catalan classic, romesco brings a jolt of colour and flavour to any meal. Stock your fridge with our Head Chef’s version, and serve it with anything fresh from the barbecue – fish, meat or, as here, seasonal green vegetables

Romesco originated in Tarragona, Catalonia in northern Spain, originally made by local fisherman to serve with their catch. Today it’s synonymous with Spanish cuisine and equally at home paired with grilled meats as, in this case, with vegetables. During the summer I always have some in the fridge as a go-to for when the barbecue gets fired up.

Grilled vegetables with romesco sauce

For the romesco:

  • 4 ripe tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves – peeled and sliced
  • 1 slice sourdough bread – crust removed and torn into chunks
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 100g blanched almonds – roasted
  • 200g piquillo peppers – deseeded
  • 60ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for cooking
  • 15ml Sherry vinegar

For the grilled vegetables:

  • Olive oil
  • Spring onions
  • Tenderstem broccoli
  • Asparagus

Preheat the oven to 160°C. First, make the sauce. Halve the tomatoes, season and drizzle with a little oil, then bake in a hot oven until soft (about 10 minutes). Fry the garlic in a little oil until it just starts to turn golden, then add the bread. Fry until golden and crisp. Add the cayenne and paprika, and toast for a minute.

Place the pan’s contents along with all the other ingredients in a food processor and blend until you obtain a coarse consistency. Season to taste. Add a little more vinegar if it needs a bit more acidity and a little more oil for a thinner sauce.

Now prepare the vegetables. Brush all the vegetables with a little oil, season with salt and griddle over a high heat, turning occasionally, until they are softening at the core and charred all over. Place on a serving platter with a bowl of the romesco to dip them in.