Calçots amb romesco (Spring onions with romesco sauce)
This type of Catalan spring onion has its own festival in the province of Tarragona and are eaten by the tonne during calçot season all over Catalunya. This recipe has been adapted for urban home cooks, but the real calçot experience is meant to be had over an open fire in the outdoors.
* 3 bunches of calçots (if you can’t get them where you are, you can substitute) plump spring onions or Chinese green onions, which are about 2.5cm/1 in across the bulb
* olive oil, for brushing
For the romesco sauce
* 2-3 nyoras or other mild dried red chillies, such as Mexican anchos or guajillos
* 1 large red pepper, halved and seeded
* 1/4 cup hazelnuts, blanched
* 4 slices French bread
* 6 tbsp olive oil
* 2 large tomatoes, halved and seeded
* 4-6 large garlic cloves
* 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
* squeeze of lemon juice
* chopped fresh parsley, to garnish
Cooking Time: 1 hour
Prepare the sauce. Soak the dried chillies in hot water for about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Place the pepper, tomatoes and garlic on a baking sheet an drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Roast, uncovered, for 40 minutes, until the pepper is blistered and blackened and the garlic is soft. Cool slightly, then peel the pepper, tomatoes and garlic.
Heat the remaining oil in a small frying pan and fry the hazelnuts until lightly browned, then transfer them to a plate. Fry the bread in the same oil until light brown on both sides, then transfer to the plate with the nuts and leave to cool. Reserve the oil from cooking.
Romesco is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle and we encourage you to do it this way…it’s just better. Drain the chillies, remove the seeds and beat them down in the mortar, then add the rest of the ingredients and do the same until you have a consistent paste. If you don’t have the time or the will, proceed as follows: drain the chillies, discard as many of the seeds as you can, then place the chillies in a food processor. Add the red pepper halves, tomatoes, garlic, hazelnuts and bread chunks together with the reserved olive oil. Add the vinegar and process to a paste. Check the seasoning and thin the sauce with a little more oil or lemon juice, if necessary. Set aside.
Trim the roots from the spring onions or trim the chinese onion leaves so that they are about 7 in long. Brush with oil.
Heat an oiled ridged grill pan and cook the onions for about 2 minutes on each side, turning once and brushing with oil. (Alternatively, place under a preheat grill 4in away from the heat and cook for 3 minutes on each side, brushing with more oil when turned; roast in a preheat oven at 400 F for 5-6 minutes; or barbecue over grey charcoal for 3-4 minutes on each side, brushing with oil as need). Serve immediately with the sauce.
Wine pairing: Vino en porrón.
Image by Liz Castro, Flickr