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Grilled Shrimp with Cocoa-Nib Romesco Sauce

Red peppers, tomatoes, almonds and garlic form the base of romesco, a classic Spanish sauce from Catalonia. Here it's embellished with cocoa nibs, small pieces of husked roasted cocoa beans. They have all the earthy flavor of eating chocolate without the sweetness.

slideshow Healthy Grilling Recipes

  • Servings: 12

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  • 2 tablespoons tequila
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 dozen large shrimp (about 2 pounds), shelled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup cocoa nibs (see Note) or grated unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 medium tomato—halved, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons masa harina or fine cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  1. In a large, shallow glass or ceramic dish, stir the tequila with the sugar. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°. Put the almonds and hazelnuts in separate pie plates and roast for 8 minutes, or until fragrant. Transfer the hot hazelnuts to a kitchen towel and rub together to remove the skins. Let cool, then coarsely chop the hazelnuts and almonds.
  3. Roast the pepper over a gas flame or under the broiler, turning, until charred all over. Transfer the pepper to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and steam for 5 minutes. Peel the pepper and discard the stem and seeds. Strain any accumulated juices into a bowl. Coarsely chop the pepper and transfer it to the bowl.
  4. In a food processor, combine the almonds, hazelnuts, roasted pepper, cocoa nibs, tomato, garlic, vinegar, masa harina, lemon juice, salt and crushed red pepper. Process to a fine paste. With the machine on, slowly add the olive oil to form a thick sauce. Scrape the romesco sauce into a bowl and season with salt.
  5. Light a grill. Season the shrimp with salt and grill over a hot fire for about 2 minutes per side, or until just cooked through. Serve the shrimp hot, with the romesco sauce alongside for dipping.

Make Ahead

The marinated shrimp and the romesco sauce can be refrigerated overnight. Bring the sauce to room temperature before serving.


Cocoa nibs are available from specialty food stores and from Scharffen Berger (866) 972-6879) or Chocolates El Rey (800-357-3999).

Suggested Pairing

Cold beer is a perfect foil for the nutty romesco sauce. Try a Pale Ale.

Contributed By Photo © Edmund Barr Published August 2000

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