Thursday, 20 February 2014

Cod with Romesco Sauce

Romesco Sauce is delicious with many different things...

...and the great news is, if you haven't yet had the fortune to try it, it's extremely simple to make - you just grill and blitz!

I've included it in a recipe with cod here, but it's delicious with any white fish (especially seabass, bream or monkfish) as well as with chicken or even roasted vegetables. You can even make it ahead and warm through, if you prefer. It's also a nice crowd-please if you've got people over for dinner - in fact, all of this is good to entertain, as it's generally well-recieved, quick to put together at the end, and you can prepare your vegetables, potatoes etc. ahead, prior to cooking them (the vegetables can even be cooked ahead and re-heated, if cooking roasted vegetables such as my roasted vegetables with oregano, and if serving with my Catalonian spinach with raisins and pine nuts, that only takes minutes to make).

If someone has a nut allergy, you can thicken the sauce with fried bread instead of nuts (the Spanish did it both ways, depending on their access to almonds!), you can use hazelnuts instead of almonds, or a combination of the two, and you can use additional olive oil to thin the sauce out a little, if you wish.

Bacalao en Salsa Romesco
(Cod with a Roasted Tomato, Garlic and Almond sauce)

A delicious way to serve cod, shown served with spinach with raisins and pine nuts (87 calories per serving) and roasted new potatoes (110 calories per serving).

Serves two (with an extra portion of sauce leftover if you don’t eat it!) only 225 calories per serving for the cod and Romesco sauce. 332 calories if served with the potatoes and spinach dish as shown.

You can serve any fish you like with this, grilled, oven-baked or even steamed (just remember to weigh it and adjust the calories as appropriate). I wouldn’t recommend attempting to pan fry the fish in this small amount of oil, as most likely it will stick to the pan both before and after you turn (scrape!) it. I tried and failed twice with two different kinds of fish! If you’re not able to eat nuts, you could always thicken the sauce with fried (or toasted) bread instead, which was also used in the past for those who didn’t have access to almond trees/almonds.


  • 2 cod fillets (preferably skinless and boneless, or your favourite fish, adjust calories accordingly), 140g each, 280g total [224]
  • 1 tsp olive oil [45]
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper [1]
  • Optional paprika to sprinkle on cod before grilling (broiling)/oven roasting

For the Romesco sauce

(makes 3 servings, so you’ll have some leftover, unless you're a sauce-freak and scoff the lot!)
  • 2 large vine tomatoes (about 220g) [44]
  • 4 garlic cloves (unskinned) [24]
  • 20g blanched almonds* (you could use slivered, or ground, but the flavour and texture will be a little different) [126]
  • ½ tsp sugar (optional, omit for paleo/clean eating, could substitute honey) [8]
  • ½ a 15ml tbsp red (or white) wine vinegar (Paleo substitute apple cider vinegar) [2]
  • ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or more to taste on non-fast days!) [65]
  • Salt (initially try ¼ teaspoon) and freshly ground black pepper, to taste [1]

Roasted Potatoes and Sides
See bottom of method


If you’re serving with the potatoes, then it’s easiest to get the potatoes on first, make the sauce, set aside, then grill the fish while the spinach is on (if you’re making it). If you’d prefer to serve it with roasted Mediterranean vegetables, then pop them in the oven underneath the potatoes.

To make the Romesco sauce

Pre-heat the grill (broiler) to medium and line a baking tray with foil. Put the tomatoes, garlic cloves (in their skins) and almonds on the tray, and put under the grill. Initially, you will need to keep a close eye on it, as the almonds will start to brown very quickly and need turning before they burn – you only want to brown them a little.
Remove them once lightly browned and set aside into a food processor (or blender - you could do this all by hand in a pestle and mortar, but it will be hard work!). Continue to grill, turning occasionally - the garlic will be cooked next, once it is browned and the tomatoes will take up to about twenty minutes once the skins are wrinkled and coming off. (Note – you can keep the tray and existing foil to use to grill or oven bake the cod.)

Remove the skins from the garlic (and tomatoes, if desired). Chop the bottom end off the garlic, and cut the skinned tomatoes in half, and remove the tough green part where the stalk is. Add the garlic to the nuts in the food processor and blitz to a paste. Add the tomatoes and other ingredients, and then blend to a creamy sauce – it will have a slightly rough texture from the nuts, it is not meant to be smooth (Thermomix, speed 8-9, 10-20 seconds at a time, and scrape down in between, until happy with the texture). Serve warm (you can re-heat it gently in a pan, or microwave, just don’t boil it).

*You can use hazelnuts instead of almonds, or a mix of the two. You can also use a slice of fried bread to thicken the sauce if you are unable to or do not wish to use nuts.

To cook the cod

Wash and pat dry the cod fillets. Check for any bones, and remove if necessary. Gently rub ½ tsp olive oil over each cod fillet and then place on your foil-lined tray. Set the grill (broiler) to high, then place the cod underneath for 8 to 12 minutes (depending on thickness) until cooked. Alternatively place in the centre of a pre-heated oven at 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for 15-22 minutes (or you could also wrap loosely in foil.

Remember, no timing can be exact, as ovens vary, and it will also depend on the thickness of your fish fillets, so be sure to check your fish before the time is up – the fish is cooked when you can gently part the flakes with a knife in the thickest part, and they are still moist).

Optional sides

Spinach with pine nuts and raisins (87 calories per serving), Zarangollo (courgettes cooked with onions and oregano, 80 calories per serving, without egg), Roasted vegetables with oregano dressing (73 calories per serving),  recipes can all be found on the blog - use the search button if you can't see them.

Baby roast new potatoes
Parboil 250g new/baby potatoes in their skins (halved if large) salted water for eight to ten minutes. Roast in a hot oven (Gas mark 7/220C/425F) tossed in 1 tsp olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper for 20-30 minutes (depending on how you like the skin cooked). You can turn the oven down and keep them warm while you cook the fish. Serves two, 110 calories per serving.

If you liked this, you may also like my recipe for sea bass in a Spanish cider sauce.

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