The Evasive Calçot and the Promiscuous Romesco

April 22, 2012
4 Ratings
  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

The calçot is a member of the allium family (I think it's in the sub-genus allium fistulosum). 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.

In this recipe, I substituted Mexican green onions, which have a large, round bulb, are inexpensive, and grill up nicely. You will need 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 weekends in the Hamptons. The romesco is my standard recipe. Consider this as a side for grilled meat or fish, or just use some toast points. —pierino

Test Kitchen Notes

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, 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

What You'll Need
  • Calçot
  • 8 Mexican green onions
  • 3 pounds lump wood charcoal (like oak or mesquite)
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Romesco
  • 2 to 4 dried peppers, I like Spanish Noras* or cascabels, soaked in water for 2 hours
  • 2 slices stale, crusty bread
  • 3/4 cup light Spanish or Californian olive oil
  • 3 to 4 ounces Marcona almonds
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • Sea salt
  1. Build a fire in your grill.
  2. Brush the onions with olive oil.
  3. Grill onions over a low flame until they begin to char on the outside.
  4. Remove from the grill and wrap them with newspaper. Wrap the whole thing with cling wrap and allow this package to steam for at least one hour (thank you for that tip, Colman Andrews). You want the bulb ends of the onions to become creamy and soft.
  5. While the alliums are resting in their package, make your romesco
  6. Cut the tops off of the soaked peppers. Seed them and chop them roughly.
  7. Lightly toast the almonds. You can do this on the stovetop, or in a sheet pan in the oven.
  8. Cut up your bread into cubes. Chop the garlic
  9. Place peppers, almonds, and bread in your food processor and pulse. Drizzle in the olive oil and vinegar. Hit this with sea salt to taste.
  10. Serve the romesco with the grilled onions. Your guests can slide off the burnt skin with their fingers.
  11. *You can find ?oras on line through La Española or Surfas

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • zoemetro uk
    zoemetro uk
  • pierino
  • Jennifer Ann
    Jennifer Ann
  • ChompingTheBigApple
  • drbabs
Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.

7 Reviews

zoemetro U. June 10, 2012
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.
pierino May 11, 2012
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.
Jennifer A. April 26, 2012
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.
ChompingTheBigApple April 25, 2012
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!
drbabs April 23, 2012
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!
KateSmith April 22, 2012
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!
pierino April 23, 2012
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.