Calçots with romesco sauce

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A quintessential Catalan pairing that's stood the test of time, this combination of smoky charred calçot onions and thick, unctuous romesco sauce can work as a starter or a side. Make sure you really blacken the sweet calçots on a griddle pan or barbecue to infuse them with smoky flavour.

Charlie says: 'Calçots are a delicious member of the onion family, sitting somewhere between the leek and the spring onion (which you can use if you can't find calćots). Sweet and delicate, they are traditionally eaten at calçotadas, a Catalan winter barbecue where calçots are packed onto grills and eaten with bowls of romesco.'

First published in 2021






Preheat an oven to 170°C/150°C fan/gas mark 3. Place the almonds in one baking tray and the breadcrumbs in another. Place both in the oven for 8 minutes, or until golden brown, then leave to cool
Once cool, place the almonds in a food processor and blitz to a coarse powder (you could also do this in a pestle and mortar if preferred). Scoop a spoonful out to use as a garnish, then add the breadcrumbs and garlic. Blitz once again, then add the peppers, paprika and vinegar and blitz once more to create a smooth paste. With the motor still running, gently drizzle in the olive oil until you have a yielding sauce trying to hold its shape. Season to taste with salt, then cover and set aside at room temperature
Place a griddle pan over a very high heat (or, if the weather’s nice, preheat a barbecue). Once very hot, drizzle the calçots with olive oil and season with salt, then place them in a single flat layer on the griddle or barbecue (you may need to cook them in batches depending on the size of your pan). Leave to cook until blackened on one side, then flip them over and cook until charred all over and soft in the centre
To serve, either strip away the outer charred layers or allow your guests to do this if they don’t mind a bit of mess. Spoon the romesco over the calçots and dress with more olive oil, pepper and the reserved crushed almonds
First published in 2021

After learning the culinary ropes at Jeremy Lee's legendary Quo Vadis in London, Charlie Hibbert now heads up the beautiful Ox Barn restaurant at Thyme, a vast country retreat with beautiful homegrown produce on the doorstep.

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