If you’re ever in Barcelona around November to April, you have to go to a calçotada. This Catalonian tradition is Barcelona’s answer to a barbecue: communities get together in the street or a square, drink beer, mingle, gossip, then stuff their faces at communal tables. The main difference is that calçotadas rotate around calçots, a large leek-sized scallion that grows in the region. They’re grilled over charcoal until blackened, then served on newspaper. It’s then your job to then remove the outer layer of the calçot and dip the super tender greens in hearty romesco sauce. However, your plate at a calçotada won’t be limited to a heaping pile of seemingly burnt greens; they’ll be accompanied by local sausages such as morcilla or botifarra, a scoop of stewed beans, good yet cheap Barcelona beer like Estrella or Moritz, and a chunk of freshly baked bread.
Trust me, this is a do-not-miss culinary experience if there ever was once.
Calçots with Romesco Sauce
Appetizer, Side Dish
3garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1cupchopped canned roasted red pepper, also known as 'pimiento de piquillo'
1/2cupblanched almonds*, unsalted and peeled
1slicewhite bread, no crust
1tbspsweet Spanish paprika
28stalksscallions (the thicker the better)
1/4cupextra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400°F. Wrap the tomato with garlic in aluminum foil and roast in the oven 18-20 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool. Peel and core the tomato.
Place the chili in a bowl and cover with boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and roughly chop the chili. Toast the bread.
Once cooled, place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth yet thick.
Trim any roots off of the scallions, but leave the ends intact. Toss the scallions in olive oil, salt and pepper and cook on a grill pan over medium-high heat for about 6-14 minutes, depending on the thickness of the scallions, until charred on the outside yet tender inside. Serve on newspaper (optional) with a side of romesco sauce.
*Lower the raw almonds into boiling water for a minute. Immediately drain the almonds and rinse them with cool water. Drain, peel away the skin and dry.