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I’m super excited to be a new member of the Recipe Redux crew and posting my first recipe for one of their challenges!  This group of Registered Dietitians and food bloggers is all about creating deliciously healthy recipes and sharing them throughout social media communities. This month’s theme challenged us to create “small plates for sunny days.”  Eating in a tapas style, or small plates of food, is my FAVORITE way to eat!  When I had the chance to visit Spain 15 years ago I fell in love with the concept of eating various small plates of scrumptious morsels while socializing.  Hand me a refreshing tinto de verano beverage ( basically a red wine spritzer) and I am in heaven.  It’s so much fun to sample multiple foods at a meal instead of just one traditional sized entree.

With summer just around the corner, you’ll probably be headed to impromptu picnics, outdoor celebrations, July 4th holiday parties, or maybe even just a casual friends get together al fresco.  Warm weather definitely calls for foods that aren’t heavy to eat and dishes that aren’t going to keep you in the kitchen for hours and hours. To me, the dish that screams PARTY TIME is shrimp cocktail. If a get together has a chilled, plump, juicy shrimp appetizer, you know it’s going to be a good party!

Instead of making a traditional shrimp cocktail, I wanted to make a version that was a little more in the fashion of a Spanish tapa and something that wouldn’t require me to chop much or get my hands super messy because I just got a manicure!  Don’t get me wrong, chopping a mound of vegetables can actually be therapeutic for me, but most of the time, I’m also in a hurry.  My version of a traditional Spanish romesco sauce is easier than the original version. Using bottled red peppers and canned fire roasted tomatoes helps shave down the time and messy factors, but doesn’t sacrifice quality. The heartiness of the almonds, brightness of the red peppers and tomatoes, acid of the sherry vinegar and smokiness of the smoked paprika all balance each other to create a craveable sauce that can be used to top practically anything or used a a vehicle to dip everything!


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Shrimp cocktail usually uses poached shrimp, but I like quickly roasting or broiling the shrimp with a little olive oil for more flavor.  Cocktail sauce can also contain a lot of sugar and not contain very much nutrition.  The romesco sauce is made from simple, whole foods that pack a nutrition punch.  You get healthy fats from the almonds and olive oil and tons of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, including lycopene,  from the garlic, peppers and tomatoes.  Since there isn’t any added sugar and I removed the bread that’s traditionally in this sauce, it’s great for someone watching their carbohydrate intak.

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Shrimp Cocktail with Smoky Spanish Romesco Sauce

Yield: 1-1/2 cups of sauce and 31-40 shrimp

Spanish romesco sauce is a versatile sauce that's great with chicken, fish, meat and even veggies or potatoes! If you're really strapped for time, you can make the sauce, but use pre-cooked shrimp.


  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 6 medium sized garlic cloves (do not peel)
  • 1 11.9 ounce jar of roasted red peppers
  • 1/2 cup canned diced fire roasted tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1-1/2 tsp sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • Ingredients for shrimp
  • 1 lb large (31-40) raw shrimp (you can get raw shrimp without the shell/tail or with the shell/tail and remove yourself. It's up to you if you want to leave the tail on or not)
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt


    Romesco Sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place almonds and garlic cloves on a sheet pan and toast in oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the almonds, but leave the garlic cloves to continue cooking for 10 more minutes. Remove garlic from oven and remove skins when cool enough to handle.
  3. Place almonds in the bowl of a food processor. Process almonds until they resemble coarse sand, about 30-45 seconds. Add the garlic, peppers, tomatoes, smoked paprika, salt, and cayenne. Blend until smooth.
  4. Once smooth, add the vinegar and olive oil and blend until well combined. Serve sauce at room temperature.
  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. With a paper towel, pat shrimp dry.
  3. In bowl, toss shrimp with the olive oil and salt.
  4. When oven is hot, place an empty sheet pan in the oven for 2 minutes. Remove the sheet pan and add shrimp in a single layer to the hot sheet pan. Place sheet pan with shrimp into the oven and cook for 4 minutes.
  5. Remove shrimp from oven and chill until cold.
  6. Serve with romesco sauce.


Sauce tastes best when served at room temperature.

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Showing 4 comments
  • Reply

    I love the idea of using romesco sauce for shrimp cocktail! I could literally drink that stuff, but never thought to use it this way. Genius!

    • TastyBalance

      LOL! I’m pretty sure my husband DID drink the romesco sauce!

  • Reply

    Welcome to the Recipe Redux! I hope it’s been a fun couple months. Love this recipe. I’ve never made Romesco – always enjoy it out though!

    • TastyBalance

      thanks so much Marisa! Loving it so far!

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