Calçots from Cataluña
In the region of Cataluña, Spain, every Fall there is a harvest of Calçots. These green onions are milder and have a smaller bulb than regular onions. They are grown in Valls, which is a registered European Union protected geographic region. This means, only the onions grown in this area can be called Calçots.
Once the harvest is completed, the locals enjoy the Calçots together in a fiesta, normally in the small villages of Cataluña. The proper way to cook the onions are to string them together using wire and BBQ them in the flames over dried grape vines. The idea is to char the onions so that the inside is fully cooked. You remove the charred outer layer before eating. Once cooked, you stack them in newspaper, sit around the table and enjoy the warm sweet inside dipped in Romesco Sauce and served with of course, local wine!
This homemade sauce originates from the Cataluña area. Fishermen used to make this sauce to be eaten with the fresh fish they caught daily. Now, it is a staple in the Calçots tradition. Below is a recipe for the sauce to enjoy you Calçots, Cataluña style.
- 3 tomatoes
- 1 garlic head
- 1/2 red bell pepper (normally this would be a 2 ñora peppers)
- 1 slice of stale crusty bread
- 1/3 cup hazelnuts, raw and peeled
- 1/3 cup almonds, raw and peeled
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Place the tomatoes, entire head of garlic and red pepper in a roasting pan. Drizzle everything with a good amount of olive oil. Make sure you slice the tomatoes to let heat out. Roast in the oven set at 175 C (350 F). Roast the garlic until tender and remove about 20 minutes before the other vegetables. Continue roasting the tomatoes and red pepper until the skin begins to char – about 60 minutes. When the tomatoes and red pepper are roasted, remove the pan and let them cool.
- Toast the bread and the nuts. You can do this either by placing them in the oven, or over medium heat on the stove top.
- Place the bread in the vinegar in a large bowl to soak.
- Once the tomatoes and red peppers are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin. Transfer the peeled tomatoes, red pepper and garlic to a food processor and add salt.
- Begin blending and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Once it’s combined completely, add the toasted bread and vinegar until blended.
- Add the nuts and blend more. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Romesco sauce should be a bit tangy and don’t over blend. It’s ok if the sauce is a bit chunky. However, for a thinner sauce, add more olive oil. For a thicker sauce, add more bread.
- Enjoy with roasted Calçots or whatever roasted vegetable you want to dip in your Romesco Sauce!