Hazelnut Romesco Sauce

Greetings, Travelers! I’m still adventuring in Suramar in the Broken Isles of Azeroth [World of Warcraft]. A tour of Suramar would not be complete without a taste of this savory and versatile Romesco sauce. I love it over pasta. Romesco sauce is also served as a dip for crusty fresh bread or roasted vegetables, or over the top of white fish or grilled chicken. Spread it on sandwiches or stir it into vegetable soup. Basically, put this on everything! This pesto-like sauce is heavy with the flavors of the late summer garden. Tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and garlic are featured along with a smoky paprika. The texture is perfected with toasted bread crumbs and hazelnuts.

Red hand-made ceramic bowl holding romesco sauce, garnished with crushed hazelnuts and dried parsley.

The recipe itself is pretty simple, just blend everything together in a food processor. The trick here is to plan ahead for gathering the ingredients. For the bread crumbs, when I get to the last few slices of a loaf of homemade bread, I like to cube and dry them so they are available for recipes like this one (also save those for croutons or holiday stuffing). The first step is always a quest for ingredients!

The beautiful bowl is made by Kim Skriiko via Crystal Heart Boutique. Shout out to Freddy Guys Hazelnuts for their high-quality and delicious hazelnuts that I have been greatly enjoying cooking with. Recipe adapted from Oregon Hazelnut Country by Jan Roberts-Dominguez which appears to be out of print but is definitely worth tracking down if you can find a copy. (I don’t get anything for this, I just like thanking people who put beautiful things into the world!)

Hazelnut Romesco Sauce

Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: Elven (World of Warcraft), Italian
Keyword: Azsuna, Broken Isles, Dairy-Free, Summer, Suramar, Vegan, Vegetarian

Equipment

  • Food processor
  • Rimmed baking sheet

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp Avocado oil divided
  • 1/2 Cup Avocado oil
  • 1 lb Tomatoes (Roma or Heirloom preferred but any will work) Halved and cored, juices and seeds left inside
  • 1 Red bell pepper or 1 pepper worth of pre-made roasted red pepper
  • 1 1/2 Cups Unseasoned Bread Crumbs (about 2 slices of bread; cut into cubes is fine)
  • 1 Cup Hazelnuts Roasted and skinned
  • 3 Garlic cloves Peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp Smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Table Salt (not Kosher Salt)
  • 1/4 tsp Ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Red wine (Pinot Noir is excellent) or red wine vinegar

Instructions

  • Pierce the bell pepper in several places (to avoid bursting) then place on a rimmed baking sheet. Put under a broiler, turning several times, until it has blackened over most of the surface. Alternately this can be blackened over a gas stove-top flame or in a grill. Set the pepper aside to cool so the baking sheet can be used for the tomatoes.
  • Preheat oven to 400.
  • Pool 1 Tbsp of oil on the baking sheet, and put the tomato halves in the oil, cut-side up. Coat the surface of each tomato half with a bit more oil (the 2nd Tbsp) to help with browning. Roast for 15 minutes then turn the tomatoes over (skin-side up) and continue roasting until the tomato skins begin to darken, crack, and pull away from the flesh. Remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle. Keep this on the pan – the baking juices will all be used too.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp of oil (the 3rd Tbsp) in a skillet. Turn on the stove fan! Fry the bread slices until golden brown and crisp on both sides. Remove from skillet and let cool.
  • Remove the skins from the cooled tomatoes, keeping the juices.
  • Put peeled tomatoes and juices in the food processor. Peel, core, and seed the bell pepper, and add the bell pepper to the food processor. Add the toasted bread, roasted hazelnuts, garlic, red pepper flakes, paprika / chili powder, salt, and black pepper.
  • Process everything in the food processor until smooth-ish (it will have a somewhat grainy appearance because of the bread and nuts). With the machine running, add the wine (or vinegar). Let the motor run for a moment then stop it and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn the motor back on and add the remaining 1/2 cup oil in a slow, steady, very thin stream. The sauce will thicken slightly and hold together with a soft, pesto-like consistency. If it seems too thick, drizzle in a little bit of hot water with the machine running.
  • Taste and add extra salt / wine / vinegar if needed to balance the flavors (since tomatoes and peppers will have different flavors).

Notes

Romesco sauce will last about a week in the refrigerator.