Calçots, romesco

Calçots, romesco

By
From
Finding Fire
Serves
4

Calçots are a variety of spring onion that have been forced to shoot like a young leek and are harvested in the spring. They originated in Spain, where people celebrate the harvest with a calçotada; the calçots are charred extensively over a hot fire of vine shoots, before being wrapped in newspaper and allowed to gently steam.

My first experience of this was at Mugaritz when, due to my friend working there at the time, I was invited to join their staff celebrations. Warm parcels of newspapers flanked the long tables and we were invited to uncover the humble vegetables, magically transformed by fire. Peeling back the charred exterior with our fingers uncovered a sweet and smoky interior, which we savoured with a rich romesco sauce and a barrel of the local apple cider.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
12 calçots or medium leeks

For the romesco

Quantity Ingredient
120g hazelnuts, peeled and halved
2 garlic cloves
200g bull's horn red peppers
1 dried nyora pepper
100ml Tomato water
40ml red-wine vinegar
100ml extra-virgin olive oil such as arbequino or koroneiki
1 tablespoon pimento (smoked paprika)
sea salt

Method

  1. 1. Prepare your embers and arrange a grill directly over the top.
  2. 2. Prepare the romesco. Roast the hazelnuts in a dry cast-iron pan over the fire until golden and caramelised. Remove and cool completely.
  3. 3. Roast the garlic. Wrap the garlic cloves in aluminium foil and season with sea salt. Place in the hot ashes at the edge of the fire and leave to roast for approximately 20 minutes until soft. Carefully remove from the ashes and, once cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic from its skin.
  4. 4. Raise the grill 5 cm (2 in) above the embers. Grill the red peppers, turning frequently until blackened all over. Transfer to a bowl or tray, cover with a lid or cloth and allow to steam and cool for 10 minutes. Carefully peel the peppers and remove the seeds.
  5. 5. Blanch the nyora pepper in a saucepan of boiling water until rehydrated. Drain and scrape the internal flesh with a spoon and reserve.
  6. 6. Blend the nyora pepper flesh with the roasted peppers, tomato water, 80 g (23/4 oz) of the toasted hazelnuts, roasted garlic, vinegar, olive oil and pimento. Season with sea salt.
  7. 7. Prepare the calçots or leeks by splitting and washing them thoroughly. Leave to soak in water for 20 minutes.
  8. 8. Drain the calçots and place directly onto the hot embers, turning until they are charred and blackened all over. Remove and wrap tightly in newspaper, leaving them to steam for 20 minutes.
  9. 9. Serve, instructing your guests to unwrap the calçots and peel their charred exteriors to reveal creamy hearts. The sweet hearts can be dipped in the fiery romesco sauce and topped with the remaining toasted hazelnuts. Savour immediately.

NOTE

  • Nyora (nora) peppers are a Spanish variety that have glossy and crimson-hued skin. The peppers are sweet, mildly hot and aromatic.
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