My secret sauce for pairing red wine with food is Romesco sauce. The trick is that the sauce is what gets matched with the wine. Ingredients may be tweaked to best match Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, or even a red blend. In other words, this is one way to go meatless and drink red wine, too!
True confession: I am a lazy cook. The original recipe from chef and acclaimed cookbook author Joanne Weir calls for additional steps to fry the bread, roast red peppers, and toast the nuts. However, I usually don’t. Instead, everything goes in the food processor and gets blitzed up. This dish is ready in a flash!
Romesco Sauce Recipe
1 clove garlic (or if you’re like me, use 2!)
1 slice day old bread
12 ounce jar roasted red peppers
14.5 ounce can chopped tomatoes, drained
3 Tablespoons walnuts or hazelnuts (toast them if you want to enhance intensity of flavor)
1 teaspoon paprika (smoked or sweet – see below)
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tabelspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Instead of mincing the garlic on a chopping board, I just toss it in the food processor on its own and pulse it a couple of times. Then, everything else but the oil goes in. Blitz it up, and pour in the olive oil while the processor is running. Voila, the sauce is ready! Typically, I serve it at room temperature.
Pairing Romesco Sauce with Wine
As with most recipes, I add a little of this or that to help the sauce better play off the chosen wine for the evening.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Cabernet Franc – use sweet paprika and add about a quarter teaspoon of finely minced rosemary.
Syrah or Rhone Style blends – use smoked paprika to match wines with a smoky nuance. OR use sweet paprika and add a quarter teaspoon of ground Herbs de Provence.
Sangiovese or Tempranillo – use smoked paprika and a couple of sprigs of fresh Italian parsley. Try serving over grilled mushrooms or zuchinni.
Serving Romesco Sauce
For an appetizer, serve the sauce in a bowl drizzled with more EVOO and bruschetta alongside. In this way, the Romesco serves as a spread. Better yet, add some burrata to the sauce just like I did in my easy Puttanesca pairing. Perfect for dinner on the patio!
This sauce makes a great bed on which to serve shrimp sautéed in garlic. Bonus, it still pairs with red wine (yes, fish and red wine can play well together when properly paired!).
Another wonderful fish pairing is halibut.
Romesco is also terrific served with grilled chicken or steak.
Toss with pasta as a great alternative to marinara sauce.
Use as pizza sauce.
Thirsty for more? Check out my tips for pairing Cabernet Franc with food.