The Evasive Calçot and the Promiscuous Romesco

By • April 22, 2012 • 7 Comments

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Author Notes: The calçot is a member of allium family in I think the sub-genus allium fistulosum, but hey, I’m not a botanist. It falls in the class of bunching onions but is unique to Catalonia where it was developed in the 1800’s. It’s similar in some ways to spring onion but the bulb end is elongated. Calçot can take a year and a half to grow from seed. What I’m substituting here for calçot are Mexican green onions which have a larger, round bulb, are inexpensive and grill up nicely. What you will need is a wood charcoal fire (they don’t use briquets in Catalonia). You NYC apartment dwellers can have a dispensation and use a ridged grill pan. But maybe try the real thing on one of your Hamptons weekends. The romesco is my standard recipe. Consider this as a side for other grilled meat or fish. Grilled white potatoes can be cooked at the same time. Or just use some toast points.pierino

Food52 Review: The pitch-perfect romesco sauce makes this dish sing, but the grilled spring onions are mighty tasty all on their own. Both are easy to prepare, but one does need to set aside time for the onions to steam after grilling and for the peppers to soak. Pierino’s unusual method of wrapping the onions in newspaper and plastic wrap for one hour yielded onions with a soft, buttery texture and a charred, intensely sweet flavor. When making the romesco, I recommend using top quality ingredients—premium olive oil, Marcona almonds, and sherry vinegar—because this condiment is all about letting gutsy, vibrant flavors shine. This sauce was so delicious that I couldn’t resist stealing spoonfuls straight from the bowl.cookinginvictoria

Serves 4


  • 8 Mexican green onions
  • About three pounds lump wood charcoal (like oak or mesquite) in big chunks. You will also need some loose newspaper and some cling wrap. That’s a Colman Andrews thing as you will see in the instructions.
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt


  • 2 or 4 dried peppers, your choice, but I like Spanish ńoras* or cascabels.
  • 2 slices stale, crusty bread
  • 3/4 cup, light Spanish olive oil (or California oil)
  • 3-4 ounces marcona almonds
  • 1 tbs sherry vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled, and coarse chopped
  • Sea salt
  1. Build a fire in your grill, whatever type wood you are using.
  2. Brush the onions with olive oil.
  3. Grill over a low flame until they begin to char on the outside.
  4. Remove from the grill and wrap with newspaper. Wrap the newspaper bundle with cling wrap, allow this package to steam for at least one hour (thank you for that tip, Colman Andrews). You want the bulb end to become kind of creamy and soft.
  5. While the alliums are resting in their package move on to your romesco
  6. For your romesco, cut the tops off of the peppers which you have soaked for about two hours. Seed them and cut them roughly.
  7. Lightly toast the almonds. You can do this on the stovetop or in a sheet pan in the oven. I told you this was easy.
  8. Cut up your dried out bread into cubes, and then chop the garlic
  9. Breathe deeply, this is not that hard
  10. Place the above listed ingredients in your food processor, and drizzle in olive oil and vinegar. Hit this with sea salt and give it a spanking. There's your sauce.
  11. Season with salt and serve with the romesco. Your guests can slide off the burnt skin with their fingers.
  12. *You can find ńoras on line through La Española or Surfas

Comments (7) Questions (0)


almost 2 years ago zoemetrouk

pierino made these today for lazy lunch. i have seen shows of the calcot harvest parties--and now have some idea of the reason all those spaniards looked so damn happy! thank you for the recipe and skewed photo. it was perfect to share with guests while we waited patiently for the steaming onions to transform.


almost 2 years ago pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

Cookinginvictoria, thank you for your tasting notes. I think you accomplished exactly what I was after, that creamy buttery taste from the onions. I learned that technique from Colman Andrews, with attribution of course. I've been making romesco for a long time and continue to experiment with the pepper component. I'm glad it worked for you.


almost 2 years ago Jennifer Ann

Lovely recipe. I hope that I am not the only reader delighted by the clever photo and title (perhaps it research fatigue, brought on by a recent and all encompassing analysis of equine sexing technology patents, but I cannot help but see very amusing "swimmer" calcots in your photo, striving toward the off-screen, and certainly wanton romesco harlot). Forgive me, everyone, if I am terribly mistaken.


almost 2 years ago ChompingTheBigApple

I found some really large scallions once at the store and made my "calcots" out of those. Baby leeks would work great, too. Love that you posted this recipe because it's so delicious and everyone should experience charred onions!


about 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I'm so glad you posted this recipe! I make your romesco ever since you posted it with, I think, green beans? and I love it with grilled spring onions, too!


about 2 years ago KateSmith

I'm so happy to have found this recipe! I just got back from Barcelona, where I ate my heart out on Calcot. I have been dying to find a substitute since being back in the states. Can't wait to try the above. Thanks!


about 2 years ago pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

KateSmith, pease let us know if the recipe works out for you. It is pretty easy. Barcelona is a wonderful place and they do have the best football team in the world right now.