Thursday, 19 March 2009

Calcots - Catalan's spring onions

It’s still a bit early in the year to find young, tender spring onions grown in Britain but calcots, from Tarragona, in north-east Spain, are in season now.

At annual festivals, known as calçotadas, calçots, which look like a cross between a scallion and a leek, are roasted on a grate over coals and vine trimmings until they are charred on the outside but soft on the inside.

The vegetables are then wrapped fish-and-chips style in newspaper to steam and finish cooking them and served on a terracotta roof tile ready to be peeled at the table and eaten dipped in a pungent red romesco sauce, made with tomatoes, garlic, ground almonds and peppers. It’s a great sauce to use with leeks or roasted sweet red onions. Try them at London’s recently re-opened Fino restaurant.

Calcots, or at least the ones from Valls, have EU protected status and are best eaten with red wine or cava. A Muriel Rioja Reserva 2003 (£9.99; The Co-operative) has a rounded mellowness that suits roasted vegetables.

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