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This recipe is a twofer. We’re making “sundried” tomatoes in the kitchen and then using them in a tasty and very popular Spanish dip. Romesco sauce is a creamy, smoky and delicious dip made with roasted red peppers, Roma tomatoes, garlic and nuts. For our recipe, we’re adding the more intense flavors of ancho chilies and homemade sundried tomatoes. If you like sundried tomatoes, you’re going to love the way they taste when fresh out of your own kitchen. There’s a world of difference between store bought and homemade, even if you’re not laying them out under the sun’s summer rays for days, gently turning and protecting them from tiny outdoor prey (a.k.a. bugs).
Romesco sauce is incredibly versatile. You can use it as a condiment for meat and seafood, or a dipping sauce for vegetables, crackers or bread. You can also combine it with other sauces for a bit of added creaminess and flavor. Try it yourself and let us know if you don’t find this sauce to be the culinary world’s best kept secret.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. (or lowest setting).
Wash the tomatoes under cool running water and pat them dry. Pull any stem off of the tomato and use a sharp knife to cut fruit in half. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and core.
Into a small mixing bowl, whisk together the following:
Place your seeded and cored tomatoes in a mixing bowl and sprinkle with mixed herbs and seasonings. Toss tomatoes to coat in seasoning.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or use glass baking dish). Arrange tomato halves, face up, in a single layer on parchment paper and slide baking sheet into the oven.
Keeping oven door ajar, bake on the lowest oven temperature until dried but still flexible, turning over every 3 hours. Whole process can take up to 12 hours, depending on your oven and the tomatoes you’re working with.
Tomatoes will dry at varying rates. Check the tomatoes after 6 hours and begin pulling out individually, any that have completed their drying process. When done, they will be dried, leathery and chewy.
When the tomatoes are done, allow them to cool completely.
Set 4 aside for your romesco sauce recipe.
Store the remainder of sundried tomatoes in a zip-close plastic bag—squeezing to remove any excess air—and store in cool, dry place.
Alternatively, you can pack them into a clean, dry airtight jar and pour in enough olive oil to cover the tomatoes. Keep in the refrigerator for up to six months.
Measure 1 ½ cups water into a saucepan. Add the dried ancho chilies and sundried tomatoes. Bring water to boil and then remove from heat. Let stand 30 – 60 minutes, or until the chilies and tomatoes soften. Drain water through a sieve, reserving in a heatproof bowl for later. Set the chilies and tomatoes aside.
Preheat oven to broil.
Place fresh roma tomatoes on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and arrange the rack 8 – 9 inches under the heating element. Broil tomatoes for 5 – 10 minutes, or until the skin begins to blister and lightly char. Remove from heat and allow them to cool. Peel skin off tomatoes, chop and set aside.
Arrange bell pepper on a parchment lined baking sheet and place in the oven. Broil for 20 minutes, or until the skin is charred and soft (about 20 – 25 minutes). Rotate pepper by quarter turns every 5 minutes during the broiling process to roast evenly. Remove from oven and allow pepper to cool enough to handle.
Cut the pepper in half and use a paring knife to remove the seeds, stem and pith. Use your fingers to peel away any blackened skin and discard. Chop seeded bell pepper and set aside.
Raise oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Cut softened chilies in half lengthwise and use a sharp paring knife to cut away the stem and seeds. Roughly chop the chilies and set aside.
Peel and roughly chop the garlic.
Break or cut the bread into small pieces.
Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high. Sauté garlic and bread pieces until the bread browns slightly (2 – 3 minutes). Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the bread and garlic to heatproof bowl.
Add almonds and hazelnuts to the skillet and sauté about 3 minutes, or until browned. Transfer to the bowl with garlic bread. Add chilies and sauté until aromatic and bright red (about 1 minute), and then transfer to the bowl.
Remove skillet from heat and allow to cool, reserving the chili garlic oil.
To food processor add the following:
tomatoes (broiled and peeled)
roasted bell pepper
Puree until smooth. With processor still running, slowly add the following:
1/3 cup chili water (used for soaking chilies and sundried tomatoes)
1 tablespoon garlic oil (used for sautéing)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Continue processing until fully combined and smooth. Pour into a serving bowl and use as dip for endive salad, cut veggies or bread. Alternatively, place a dollop on top of your favorite hot plate for added flavor.
Note: make this romesco sauce dish gluten-free by using gluten-free bread in place of regular baguette.