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Coming originally from Tarragona in the south, it's one of the best-known Catalan contributions to the world of food: romesco sauce. Indeed, it's one of the most important dishes here in Catalonia itself, culturally-speaking, used as a dip with calçots (roasted mild onions which look like a leek or scallion). That's not your only serving choice though: you can mix it through pasta like a pesto, spread it on sandwiches, serve it alongside grilled chicken or fish...

However, even though every family here will have their own subtle variations on the technique, the recipes you'll find abroad are normally even further from what Catalans would recognise as a romesco sauce. Today, Pau Sadurni, head chef at the restaurant Cim in Vilafranca del Penedès shows us the recipe to make the real thing.

First though, a couple of notes. Ñora peppers come from a town of the same name in Murcia. They can be difficult to source abroad, so you could swap it out for a roasted cherry pepper or a red bell pepper if needed. If you're feeling a little lazier, feel free to make it in a food processor rather than a pestle and mortar, but avoid pulsing it too much to keep some of that texture. And when it says toast, in Spain that would be dried through, you could use day-old bread that's going a little stale, or leave some bread in a really low oven, almost as if you were making croutons.

Ingredients:

  • garlic, roasted - 1/2 head
  • tomatoes, roasted - 4
  • ñora pepper, roasted - 1
  • toasted almonds - 100g / 3.5oz
  • toasted hazelnuts - 100g / 3.5oz
  • toast - 4 small slices (see video)
  • white wine vinager - 15ml / 1tbsp
  • extra virgin olive oil - 25ml / 1.5tbsp
  • salt
  • pepper

Recipe

  1. Wash your tomatoes and pepper (if not using ñora)
  2. Deseed and quarter the pepper if necessary
  3. Place the tomatoes, pepper and garlic on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil
  4. Roast at 180ºC / 360ºF for about half an hour, until they skins are starting to blacken
  5. Leave to cool, then peel the garlic
  6. In a pestle and mortar, start to grind up the nuts and bread (see video)
  7. Add the tomatoes, then the garlic and pepper, combining at each stage
  8. Season the sauce and add the white wine vinegar
  9. Slowly add the oil, constantly mixing to combine everything
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