In the Catalan region of Northeastern Spain, there is a tradition that takes place every year when the first scallions are harvested for the season. Huge parties are thrown, most often where a whole town is in attendance, to celebrate these delightful spring onions by roasting them over a huge open fire. The charred outer portion of the onion is then slipped off and the tender, mild innards are dipped into a huge bowl of romesco sauce.
At 18 minutes in to this episode of No Reservations, you can watch Anthony Bourdain partake in the festivities!
Romesco is a wonderfully complex sauce usually made up of roasted peppers, perhaps some tomatoes or chiles, toasted bread, nuts and seeds. It is pureed into a thick paste and serves as the perfect accompaniment to sweet spring vegetables. In Spain, the sauce is also traditionally served with seafood, escargot, as well as chicken and lamb.
Week 2’s pickup from the Plowbreak Farm CSA included a gorgeous bunch of freshly picked scallions and I simply had to give them the royal Spanish treatment!
Start a tradition in your neighborhood by inviting your friends over to enjoy this spring treat! And don’t forget the jugs and jugs of red wine that are also completely necessary in order to celebrate properly!!
Charred Plowbreak Farm Scallions with Romesco Sauce
- 1 bunch or more Plowbreak Farm Scallions (there will be a good amount of sauce so use as many scallions as you’ve got!)
- olive oil
Romesco Sauce recipe adapted from Epicurious
- 2 medium to large red bell peppers
- 2 dried guajillo chiles
- 1/3 cup good quality olive oil
- 2 tablespoons hazelnuts, toasted
- 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
- 1 thick slice firm white bread, cut into cubes
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup drained bottled pimientos, rinsed
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Rub the outsides of the red peppers with oil and a little salt and roast until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Place into a bowl upon retrieving from the oven and cover with plastic wrap and let steam 10 minutes. Peel the skin, it should slip right off.
Remove the seeds and stems from the peppers and coarsely chop the meat. Add the meat to the workbowl of a food processor along with any liquid that collected in the bowl.
Heat the olive oil in a pan. Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles and tear into small pieces. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the chile pieces and cook, stirring, until fragrant and bright red, about 30 seconds to a minute. Remove the chiles with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Add the hazelnuts, almonds, bread, garlic and red pepper flake to the oil and cook, stirring, until the garlic and bread are golden, about 2 minutes. Add all ingredients in the pan, including the oil, to the bowl with the chiles and allow to cool slightly.
When cooled, add mixture to the food processor along with the peppers, pimientos and vinegar and process, adding the water as the motor runs to thin the sauce a bit. Season with salt to taste.
This sauce can be made a day ahead of time as well. It will just taste better and better!
To prepare the scallions, trim the skinny tops and any part thin enough that it will burn too quickly as well as the hairy little roots. Heat your grill to medium heat and grill the scallions rubbed with a little olive oil for 4-5 minutes or until well charred on the outside. I don’t have access to my grill at the moment so I cooked mine in a hot cast iron skillet in small amount of olive oil. When the oil just begins to smoke, add the scallions in a single layer and let sear until well browned on the outside. Remove to a plate and season with salt.
Traditionally, the romesco is served in a large bowl and the scallions atop yesterday’s newspaper! In this case, I served the romesco underneath the scallions so you can easily drag their slippery little bodies right through that amazing sauce. Smoky, sweet, nutty perfection perfectly balanced by the sweet mild greens. A true treat in the summer!
By the way, as a child I had myself convinced that onions of any kind were the grossest food one could possibly eat. I have since retracted my ways as an onion-hater but I feel if I would have had access to onions as delicious and perfect as these as a child, I would have done a full 180 right then and there. Even now, as an appreciater of onions, these were a revelatory experience. Thank you Aaron and Kara! You’re soo good at what you do, please never stop!!!