Charred Leeks with Romesco Sauce

Charred Leeks with Romesco Sauce

This recipe is my nod to the Catalonian calçot festival which I have never been to but have high on my bucket list. Calçots are extraordinary vegetables, somewhere between a small leek and a large scallion, so leeks work really well as an alternative. Traditionally calçots are grilled over open flame until blackened on the outside and perfectly sweet, smokey and juicy inside. Then they are wrapped in newspaper and left to rest. They are delightfully messy to eat. Peel off the burnt outer layer, dunk the sweet middle in nutty romesco sauce and lower the sweet, tender vegetable into your mouth and enjoy. 

My version with leeks is so delicious, you’ve just got to try it! I love this messy meal with some really good bread to mop up the juices and a large glass of red wine. We sell some excellent organic Spanish wines which would go perfectly.

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Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 leeks
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 roasted red pepper (from a jar, or roast and peel your own)
  • 1 small garlic clove or half of one
  • a large handful or so of toasted almonds (place the almonds in a small tin in a hot oven for 5 minutes or until toasted)
  • 1 tbsp red-wine vinegar
  • salt to taste
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  • Make the romesco sauce by blending the almonds, red pepper, garlic, 2 tbsp of olive oil and vinegar into a semi-smooth sauce. Taste and season with a big pinch of salt.
  • Split and rinse the leeks, leaving the roots intact. Then slice them into long pieces, carefully keeping the layers all together.
  • Carefully put them in a large, hot frying pan with some olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and allow them to take on a good amount of colour before covering the pan with a lid and steaming them in their own juices until soft. They should be soft all the way through and the burnt edges should contrast beautifully with the sweet, silky middles.
  • Spread some romesco sauce on a large platter, then place the hot leeks on top and eat them immediately. Scoop them up with a fork or your hands and finish off the sauce with torn chunks of bread. Absolutely delicious!