We eat a lot of pasta with tomato sauce around these parts. If you’ve got a box of spaghetti and a jar of marinara, you can have dinner on the table in about 10 minutes, true, but sometimes we feel like we’d rather just skip dinner altogether if it means having pasta with tomato sauce yet again. If you’ve ever been in our position and are loathe to fill your pantry with ever more jumbo cans of San Marzano tomatoes, then this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis could be what you’ve been looking for. It’s a surprisingly easy to make red pepper sauce called romesco, which can be served hot or cold, and is mostly made from pantry ingredients.
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Romesco sauce is made from sweet, smoky roasted red peppers. You can buy a few jars of them to keep in your pantry the next time you’re at the store. The sauce is thickened with roasted almonds, and seasoned with simple but flavorful ingredients like lemon zest, fresh garlic, and paprika.
It’s a sweet, creamy alternative to typical marinara sauce, something that’s different enough to liven up your basic weeknight pasta dinners, but also familiar enough that even picky eaters might give it a try.
We love it paired with cooked pasta and served hot, but another great thing about romesco is that it’s also divine when served cold. De Laurentiis uses it as the dressing for her burrata pasta salad.
Pair your favorite pasta, cooked and cooled, with baby arugula, cherry tomatoes, and bite-sized chunks of dreamy burrata cheese. Then, dress everything with your romesco sauce. Each bite bursts with fresh flavor, and even though it’s a mayo-free pasta salad, it’s not dry at all, thanks to the silky, olive oil-infused romesco.
Whether you like it hot or cold, romesco is the tomato sauce alternative you’ve been looking for.
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Watch: How to Make Giada De Laurentiis’ Stuffed Lasagna Rolls