Monday, 14 March 2016

Calcots (what's all the fuss about hey?) and Cheat's Romesco Sauce

Giant spring onions or tiny hand?
In all honesty it was a case of FOMO* that made me buy calcots and I'm glad of this neurotic side to my personality to be honest, as it turns out these giant spring onions are really delicious and quite fun to eat. After a bit of Googling I learnt all about how crazy Catalonians go for these strange onions, even having a whole festival dedicated to the highly seasonal produce, the Calcotada, brilliant! I figured they'd make a fun and unusual start to our Sunday Roast, but then I started waning a little when I realised I had to made Romesco sauce to go with them, then waned a little more when I saw I didn't have all the ingredients. Then I decided I would just cheat and make a quick easy version, and bloody hell, it worked! The sauce would be great on bruschetta and also with fish, and is really good as a dip with crudities, so make the whole batch as below and use up during the week. I sadly didn't have a charcoal grill, which is traditional but I whacked the grill on max and made do (I nearly used our fire but then the Husband wisely reminded me about all the nasties in the coal etc, phew). 

For the cheat's Romesco sauce, heat your oven to 200c, and place on a roasting dish the following: two tomatoes halved, one red bell pepper halved, three cloves of garlic skinned and a piece of bread (I used sourdough). Roast for 10 minutes so things soften a bit but don't burn anything. Do check it. For the last three minutes add a handful of flaked almonds (what I had in the cupboard but whole ones would be better). Allow to cool slightly then throw in a food processor with a tablespoon of sherry vinegar, a teaspoon of smoked paprika, a massive
Burnt onions! Hurray!
glug of extra virgin olive oil and season.
Wizz to a pesto like consistency, slightly lumpy but everything kind of uniform. Sauce done. 

For the calcots, allow 2/3 per person (they are big). Heat grill to max temperature and grill the calcots, as they are (no need to clean or trim, although you may want to take the very long green ends off but make sure you leave some), and grill until blacked and little bubbles of liquid start coming out. Wrap them in newspaper for 15 minutes, this gently steams them so the insides are sweet and delicious. 

To eat the calcots (this is the fun bit) pinch the bottom where the root is, then gently pull the inner leaves from the top and squeal with delight as the sweet tender central part slides out all in one piece. Dip it in the sauce and throw oil and juice all down your top (the Catalans wear bibs, clever).

Obviously the calcot part is very much seasonal (winter) but the sauce is great, can be made in advance and would be very welcome as part of any Mediterranean spread, or just a dip to have with pitta. 

*Fear Of Missing Out (in case you didn't know that).

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