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Oil-free Romesco Sauce: Swirl over pasta. Drizzle over vegetables. Spoon into soup or stew.

Updated: Jan 10, 2022

Romesco sauce is one of the greatest gifts Spain ever gave to the culinary world. I first encountered it during a driving (and eating!) trip through Spain many years ago. Originating in Catalonia, it's in every tapas bar and restaurant, and I couldn't get enough. They serve many variations in so many different ways.

Typically, the sauce is made from any mixture of roasted tomatoes and garlic, toasted almonds, pine nuts, and/or hazelnuts, olive or sunflower oil, and Nyora peppers. For purposes of adhering to a Whole-food, Plant-based and No (added) Oil (WFPBNO) way of eating, I simply leave the oil out, and find that it's every bit as delicious.

Actually, you can use any type of pepper. Roast your own red bell peppers, or those bags of mini sweet peppers. Buy the peppers already roasted in jars (and don't toss that juice! Use it in your Romesco). If you want to mix red peppers with orange and yellow, hey, that's gonna be brilliant, too.

This sauce is yours to tweak and customize. Play around with it. Don't feel that you need to rigidly adhere to a recipe. Add more chili powder, garlic or perhaps some onion powder.

If you don't have pine nuts, use hazelnuts or almonds. I haven't tried it with cashews, but that might work, too. Pistachios could also be an intriguing choice - but the color won't be that vibrant red/orange. Whoa! That's got me thinking of a 'green' Romesco .... roasted green peppers (bell, Poblano, Anaheim) with the pistachios. If you try that, lose the tomato paste, of course, otherwise the color could end up 'muddy'.

I think you'll agree that Romesco sauce is at its most appealing when simply drizzled over vegetables. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts when dragging a tender, succulent spear of asparagus through a puddle of Romesco.

But, don't stop there! Romesco is such an easy, delicious stand-in for salad dressing (by thinning it down a bit with a splash of Masala wine or good Sherry Vinegar (vinagre de Jerez) that it could become a 'go-to' salad dressing. Sigh. But, then there are all the other incredibly tasty uses for Romesco. Where to begin? Where to end?

Of course, tossing your pasta or gnocchi in Romesco sauce is probably one of the most satisfying ways to use it. Picture the colors of this richly sauced pasta with some steamed broccoli or snap peas?

Or, spoon the rich, thick Romesco over smashed potatoes loaded with chopped, steamed Kale, Collards or Chard? Does that look like you could eat the entire bowl? Yes. I could do that!

These seem like ways of presenting so many different, and very healthy foods, in such a way that your entire family - even the fussy eaters - will love it.

Since we plant-forward eaters love our legumes, beans are something that I make every week. A different bean, in the Instant Pot, and into the fridge. I keep it pretty simple, just cooking the beans with a minimum of flavorings other than salt and pepper, maybe some onion powder.

This way - using bulk cooking - I can go in many different directions as my whimsy takes me during the week. And, generally, one night, I'll take some of the cooked beans and mix Romesco into them, heat and eat.

Easy. Peasy. Keepin' it simple. I'll do the same bulk cooking with grains, too, which let's me 'mix and match' a grain bowl on the fly for lunch or dinner.

Finally, circling back to the photo at the very top of this post, you can use Romesco as a wonderful thing to slather on great bread, pitas, Naan or baked tortilla chips. BAM!

This button will take you to PayPal where you can securely pop a bit in the 'tip jar'.



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