Calçots in Romesco Sauce
I am proud to say that last weekend we hosted our own traditional Calçotada! Calçots are similar to green onions and leeks and are in season in the Catalan region for a short time during the winter. From January to April, Catalans feast and celebrate these mild green onions by grilling them up on a fire and serving them with a delicious Romesco sauce made of fire roasted peppers, tomatoes, almonds, and toasted bread. Roast your calçots on an open flame if possible, that gives them a great flavor. A charcoal grill is a great alternative, and if it is -100 degrees outside, broiling them works great too!
In a traditional Calçotada, you would also serve a variety of grilled sausages and meats, and some artichokes to boot, but we had another 2 full courses following our little Calçotada, so we just went with the basics. You need some Cava or a Spanish red wine to wash it all down, definitely don’t skip out on wine.
If you can’t get your hands on calçots, leeks, large green onions, or even regular scallions (as plump as you can find) will be good alternatives.
Ever since our trip to Barcelona last December, I have been planning and daydreaming about cooking Catalan food for our friends. After a month of menu-planning and experiments, I was ready!
We had a bunch of friends over for a four course Catalan dinner this Saturday, and I think it was one of our best efforts. In traditional Spanish fashion, we did not want to serve the main course until late, so we served the courses slowly and did not finish dessert before midnight. Doesn’t everyone love a good 5 hour dinner every once in a while?
I loved eating Manchengo and Iberico Ham in Barcelona, so I made sure to include them in our first course, with an assortment of olives, of course! We had the opportunity to try a variety of fish stews in Barcelona. The weather was scheduled to be quite chilly this weekend, so a stew sounded just right, I decided to serve it on toasted Ciabatta with our Catalan Sardines on Toast with Susquet. Seafood is a really important element in Catalan dishes, since the Northern Spain region harvests seafood and relies on it.
To keep the seafood starters going, we also served Mussels in Escabeche, a mixture of seafood, veggies, and acid. Delicious!
We served our Calçotada as our second course, which was perfect timing and allowed me to finish the last steps on our rice dishes for the main course.
Our main course, served at 10:30pm in Spanish fashion was a pretty impressive effort, if I do say so myself. We had a Rabbit and Artichoke Paella, a Squid Ink Rice with Prawns, an Escalivada of beautiful veggies, and Sea Bass roasted in a salt shell served with a delicious citrusy salad of Oranges, Radicchio and Pickled Red Onions.
At midnight, we finished our meal with a traditional Crema Catalana, a Brazo de Gitano filled with Persimmon Jam and Whipped Cream, and a simple but delicious Homemade Fresh Cheese with Honey (Mel & Mato).
I am incredibly proud of this meal and look forward to sharing the rest of the recipes with you in the coming days, so stay tuned and enjoy the Mussels in Escabeche recipe below!
- 24-30 calçots
- olive oil
- romesco sauce:
- 2 large slices of bread, crusts removed, cubed
- 2-3 tomatoes
- 1 head garlic, unpeeled
- 1 cup almonds
- 4 red bell peppers
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup sherry or red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons salt plus ground pepper to taste
- pinch of crushed red pepper
- For the sauce:
Preheat oven to 375
Spread almonds, garlic, bread, and tomato on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet.
Roast nuts and bread for 10 minutes.
Roast garlic and tomato for an additional 20 minutes.
Remove skin from the tomato and peel the garlic.
- Meanwhile, grill bell peppers on an flame. I grill mine directly on the flame of my stove, it works really well! 2-3 bell peppers per burner is perfect.
Grill the bell peppers until burnt black on all sides. Around 8 minutes, turning every 2 minutes or so.
Pick them up with tongs and throw into a large plastic bag, or a large bowl covered with plastic. Allow to steam while everything else is roasting.
When the bell peppers are cooled, carefully remove the blackened crust. Rinse under cool water if little bits are not coming off.
- Place everything in a food processor. Mix to a smooth puree.
Season with salt and pepper and add more spice as needed.
- Grill the calçots or leeks until browned on all sides. Wrap up in newspapers or foil until ready to serve.
To eat, peel off the burnt layer and dip the remainder in Romesco sauce.
Wear a bib if you like what you are wearing!
- For the sauce: