Naturally dairy-free romesco sauce is an underappreciated condiment in my opinion. It hails from Catalonia, Spain, and is a tomato-based sauce that’s anything but boring. It has a slightly sweet, smoky, and spicy flavor and a deep richness that is simply irresistible. And this chef-created recipe uses simple, healthy, easy to find ingredients that complement a range of different dishes and appetizers.
Naturally Dairy-Free Romesco Sauce as an Accompaniment, Dip, or Spread
This recipe was originally published in the January/February 2007 of California Country Magazine. That publication is no longer in print, but this dairy-free romesco sauce recipe lives on. It was created by famed Chef Mark Peel of Los Angeles, and uses wonderfully fresh ingredients rather than roasted red peppers and tomatoes from a jar. We’ve just recently updated his recipe, added nutrition facts, and I have a few more tips and suggestions below.
What to Serve this Dairy-Free Romesco Sauce With
- Fish – Romesco sauce is right at home with almost any type of white fish. It can be baked, grilled, or pan-fried.
- Chicken – I also think it also adds wonderful richness to chicken breasts that are roasted or pan-fried.
- Eggs – Poached eggs, dairy-free scrambled eggs, fried eggs, and dairy-free omelets, are elevated with a generous spoonful of dairy-free romesco sauce. This recipe actually includes an olive oil fried egg option by chef Mark Peel.
- Tofu – For a vegan option, serve this dairy-free romesco sauce over baked or scrambled tofu.
- Legumes – Toss some dairy-free romesco sauce with a white bean pasta. You can add spinach, or other greens, and perhaps some chopped olives.
- Roasted Vegetables – Romesco sauce is wonderful with hearty vegetables that have been roasted or steamed, including cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, and potatoes.
- Bread – Serve it as a dip with crusty dairy-free bread or crackers, or as a sandwich spread.
More Dairy-Free Romesco Sauce Options
- Nuts – Almonds are the most classic romesco sauce nuts, but hazelnuts, pine nuts, or a combination of these nuts are also popular. If you only keep cashews on hand, go ahead and use those.
- Bread – Almost any type will work fine. It’s really for thickening and adding texture. But if you need grain-free, you can increase the nuts (to about 1/3 cup) and omit the bread.
- Oil – Extra-virgin olive oil is ideal in this recipe. Chef Mark Peel keeps the roasting temperature at 350ºF to accommodate this more delicate oil. But the smoke point of extra-virgin olive oil can be as high as 410ºF. The smoke point is the point at which it begins to break down. If still concerned, you can use your favorite cooking oil for the roasting portion and extra-virgin olive oil just in the pureeing step.
- Smoky – You can add 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika for added depth in flavor or substitute it for the cayenne pepper for a hint less spice.
- Creamier – You can increase the nuts to 1/4 cup.
- Thicker – For a thicker consistency, but not a richer one, simply add more toasted bread.
- More Flavorful – As mentioned, simply add more salt! Chef Mark Peel uses 1 teaspoon, but we recommend starting with less and adding more until the flavors are heightened. You can also finish the sauce with freshly ground black pepper. And make sure the tomato and pepper you are using are ripe, sweet, and flavorful.
Special Diet Notes: Romesco Sauce
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally gluten-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, and vegetarian. Be sure to choose bread that suits your dietary needs. And please note that this does not include the olive oil fried egg option, which is not egg-free and not vegan.
- 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 3 tablespoons + ¼ cup olive oil, divided, plus additional if needed
- 1 small tomato, cut in half
- 1 medium red bell pepper, halved, stem and ribs/seeds removed
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional as needed (see directions and Salt Note)
- 2 tablespoons blanched almonds or hazelnuts (or a combination of the two)
- ¼ slice bread, toasted
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
- Place the unpeeled garlic cloves in a small baking dish and cover them with 2 tablespoons oil.
- Place the tomato and bell pepper halves on a baking sheet. Drizzle them with 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle on a pinch of salt. Toss to coat, then place them cut side down on the baking sheet.
- Put the garlic and tomato and bell pepper halves in the oven. Roast the garlic for 20 minutes, or until it is soft. Roast the tomatoes and bell peppers for about 45 minutes, or until they are soft and the skin has wrinkled and blackened slightly. Reserve the garlic roasting oil.
- Let cool, and then peel the skins off the garlic, tomatoes, and bell peppers.
- Place the nuts in the bowl of a food processor or a high-power blender and pulse twice. Add the toast and pulse until the mixture forms a coarse paste. Add the tomato, bell pepper, garlic, reserved garlic oil, vinegar, cayenne pepper, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Pulse motor until mixture is relatively smooth. Slowly add the remaining ¼ cup olive oil and pulse until well blended. Taste and blend in more oil for richness and to thin, if desired, and more salt, to taste.
Olive Oil Fried Eggs Option: Coat the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil. Heat until the oil is hot. Gently crack 4 eggs one at a time into the hot oil. Cook until the eggs reach your desired yolk hardness. Place one fried egg on a slice of dairy-free toasted sourdough or gluten-free bread, top with a spoonful of the Romesco, and garnish with chives or fresh parsley, if desired.