Periodically a dish comes along that's the talk of the town, garnering praise from coast to coast. In the case of romesco, that adoration spans continents. A traditional sauce from the Catalonia region of Spain, the for romesco varies from family to family. The one common thread is its use in the spring onion feast called a Calçotada during the spring. Calçots, similar in taste to young spring onions, are charred over an open fire, then dipped into romesco and eaten. Here in the states, spring scallions will have to suffice.

It's also the perfect condiment for roasted meats and fish, or simply served with toasted slices of bread, securing its place on your menu year-round. Keep your pantry stocked with the necessary ingredients and you'll be ready to greet guests or dress up dinner in less than 30 minutes.

Recipes vary widely in both preparation and ingredients. I decided to combine the best of techniques and ingredients and streamline it for busy lifestyles. Almonds are a must in all romesco recipes but it's the type of almond that makes the difference. Marcona almonds, native only to Spain, are worth the trip, and hefty price tag, to your local specialty food shop. They're tenderer than American cultivated almonds and have a milder, nutty flavor. The other key ingredient is Nora peppers, again native to Spain. They are sweet, earthy, and intense, adding an incomparable flavor. You can find them online at La Tienda and Amazon. I was lucky enough to find them in my local specialty shop, Stinky Bklyn, on Smith Street in Carroll Gardens. 

As for technique, using sun-dried tomatoes saved me time from roasting fresh ones in the oven. Same goes for using jarred, roasted red peppers (De Lallo makes a great roasted red pepper that's plump and packed in it's own juice not drenched in oil). Once you make your first batch of romesco, there's no looking back. The flavor will linger on your tongue, leaving you wanting just one more bite. Thankfully it's as quick to make as it is to eat!

Romesco Sauce

Makes about 2 cups
Using a standard toaster is fine for preparing the bread. If you don't have a hearty white bread on hand, the "filling" from a baguette works well too.

½ ounce Nora peppers (about 2 peppers)
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup Marcona almonds
¼ cup hazelnuts, toasted and skins removed
1" thick slice of hearty white bread, crusts removed & toasted
6 sun-dried tomatoes, drained
½ cup roasted red peppers, drained
2 Tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1. Bring one cup of water to a boil; pour over peppers and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes, or until softened. Remove stem and seeds; set aside.
2. Add garlic, almonds, hazelnuts and bread to the bowl of a food processor; pulse until coarsely chopped.
3. Add tomatoes, Nora and roasted peppers, vinegar, paprika and salt. Process into a rough paste. With processor on medium speed, slowly pour olive oil through the feed tube and process until all ingredients are just combined. May be prepared 1 day in advance, chilled then brought to room temperature before serving.