This easy, vegan Romesco Sauce is bursting with fresh, tangy, sweet, and smoky flavors from roasted red bell peppers, tomatoes, and toasted almonds. It’s incredible served over pasta, roasted cauliflower tacos or crispy smashed potatoes, and it makes an ultra tasty low carb dip.
Why will you Love this Recipe?
If you've been searching for a robust, versatile sauce that amps up the WOW factor and can be slathered on absolutely everything, this is it!
My vegan version of romesco sauce adds a robust Spanish flare to everything it’s drizzled on. Here’s why this bold and zippy condiment is so popular at our house:
- Flavor Booster: super versatile, romesco elevates side dishes like grilled vegetables, perks up pizza, pasta, and leftovers; and is a healthy and delicious topping for veggie sandwiches and burgers.
- Twice as Fast: Using a jar of roasted red peppers and fire roasted tomatoes literally cuts your prep time in half. This quick romesco sauce can be served any night of the week. And the best part - it’s a real crowd pleaser.
- Special Diet Friendly: works well with vegan, vegetarian, plant based, dairy free, keto, gluten free, low carb, soy free, and sugar free dietary preferences.
- Freezes Beautifully: freeze leftovers to use over the next couple of months!
If you’ve tasted romesco sauce before, you know it’s an incredibly bold, tangy, smoky Spanish sauce. You'll need a few quality ingredients - roasted red peppers and tomatoes, toasted almonds and breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, sherry vinegar, and Spanish smoked paprika, olive oil, cayenne pepper or hot pepper flakes.
A Few Notes/Substitutions for some ingredients
While this variation of the popular Catalonia regional red pepper sauce may not be authentic, it does stick close to its true bright and nutty flavors, texture, and color.
As it is with cooks in Spain, play with the ingredients and make this your own delicious version. Here’s a few ideas:
- Roasted red bell peppers: Roast them at home or use jarred roasted red peppers for a quick 5 minute Romesco.
- Tomatoes: Roasting/charring fresh tomatoes is traditional, but fire roasted canned tomatoes work as well.
- Nuts: Traditionally made with roasted almonds (marcona, blanched, slivered or raw), also popular are walnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts or a combination of nuts.
- Acid: Sherry vinegar is the traditional (and delicious!) choice, but use lemon or even red wine vinegar if you can’t find sherry vinegar.
- Heat: A pinch of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes adds a spicy kick.
How To Make this Easy Red Pepper Sauce
Make the 5 minute version of Romesco using jarred roasted red peppers and fire roasted plum tomatoes. Fast and convenient for late-night al fresco dining when it’s too hot to turn on the oven. Or make the more traditional version with oven roasted red bell peppers and tomatoes perfect for cooler evenings!
- Roast Red Pepper: Roast the peppers by slicing them in half and baking them in a 450º F oven until blistered. Remove from oven and cover with a kitchen towel (to steam the peppers) while they cool. Then peel off the skins and remove the seeds. Tip: This can be done several days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
- Roast Tomatoes: Place the tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet or oven proof dish with the red peppers and cook until charred and softened. If using cherry tomatoes, leave them whole and don't worry about removing the charred skins.
- Toast the Nuts: While the peppers and tomatoes are roasting, toast the nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat. Roast until fragrant and slightly golden.
- Process the Ingredients: Process all ingredients in a food processor (scraping down the sides as needed) to make a coarse sauce with some texture remaining.
- Or if you prefer a silky smooth romesco, blitz in a blender (like a Vitamix) until creamy and smooth (your choice - smooth or chunky).
- Season to taste: Stir in salt. Taste and adjust flavors to your preference.
How to Serve
Traditionally served with chicken or fish, we love vibrant red pepper romesco spooned over grilled cauliflower, zucchini or asparagus. Serve it hot or cold, as a sauce or dip. Here's some other ideas for how to use romesco sauce:
- Perfect tapas: spread on crusty overnight bread or pita bread. Pair it with briny olives and sweet date paste or a drizzle of vegan honey and a glass of wine.
- Crudite platter: Arrange seasonal veggies, pita chips and gluten free hummus for dipping to serve at summer parties, BBQ and potlucks.
- Pasta Sauce: It is no secret that creamy romesco makes a luxurious vegan pasta sauce (hot or cold). Add a sprinkle of dairy free parmesan cheese for extra decadence!
- Drizzling Sauce: Baked or grilled vegetables like green beans, asparagus, sweet potato fries and cauliflower are transformed with a drizzle of romesco.
- Spread: A delicious condiment slathered on sandwiches, wraps and burgers for a creamy tangy burst of flavor.
Here's a few helpful tips so your romesco turns out perfect every time:
- Roasting Nuts: Toasting nuts warms up the oils and intensifies their nutty, creamy flavor. Time Saver: toast a large batch of nuts to store in the fridge or freezer to have on hand whenever you need them.
- Roasted Red Peppers: When red bell peppers are in season and abundant, batch roast and freeze them for quick use later in the year. You can broil until charred for a quicker cooking version (~20 minutes).
- How to Store: Make up to 7 days in advance and store in the fridge in an airtight container.
- Can I freeze romesco sauce? Yes romesco sauce freezes beautifully! Spoon into ice cube trays - once frozen solid, transfer to a freezer friendly container for several months. Thaw at room temperature before serving.
Other Vegan Sauces You Might Enjoy
If you're a sauce lover, then you know they magically transform even the most boring leftovers into something special! Here's a few more of my favorite sauces to try:
- Sweet and Spicy Tahini Sauce
- Cashew Cream Sauce (10 variations)
- Tzatziki Sauce
- Lemon Gremolata Sauce
- Walnut Pesto Sauce
- Honey Mustard Dressing (oil free)
Need more vegan sauce ideas (including gluten free and oil free)? Find a full collection on my Vegan Sauces and Dressings Page.
Do you have a favorite way to use Romesco? Please let me know in the comments below, and tag me on Instagram if you take any pictures. I love seeing what you're cooking!
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Easy Vegan Romesco Sauce Recipe (2 ways)
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- 1 food processor or blender
- 3 roma tomatoes (or 1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes)
- 2 small red peppers (or jarred)
- ½ cup raw almonds
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 2-4 tablespoons breadcrumbs*
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (more to taste)
- ¼ cup less 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2-3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt (to taste)
- 1-2 pinches cayenne pepper (optional)
- Preheat oven to 450º F.
- Place the bell peppers and tomatoes (cut side down) on a baking sheet and roast until charred and softening ~30 minutes. If using cherry tomatoes, leave them whole.
- Remove from oven, cover with a kitchen towel and let steam while they cool. Then peel off the red pepper skins and seeds.
- Breadcrumbs: use any breadcrumbs you have on hand or lightly oil a couple slices of a baguette and place in the oven with red peppers until crisp (5-7 minutes), let cool, and add to the blender.
- While the red peppers and tomatoes are cooking, toast the nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat, shaking the pan frequently until fragrant and lightly toasted.Remove from heat and let cool.
- Add the roasted vegetables, almonds, and everything else to the bowl of a food processor. Blend into a coarse sauce stopping to scrape down the sides a required. I leave some texture for a rustic sauce.
- Taste and adjust seasonings to your taste. Add more breadcrumbs if needed to thicken the sauce.
- Smooth Option: if you prefer a silky smooth romesco sauce, add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Cover and store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.
*5 Minute Express Option
- Sub in 1 cup of fire roasted canned tomatoes and 2 roasted red peppers from a jar. Add the nuts and remaining ingredients and process as per recipe.
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