Grilled Calçots and Asparagus with Romesco Sauce
Chef José Andrés likes to cook these calçots, here served with asparagus, in the traditional manner: in a newspaper. The newspaper traps in steam from the cooling calçots, making them more tender and soaking up any excess oil. These tender Spanish green onions, always served with Romesco sauce, are a classic springtime treat.
Featured in: Menu: Chef José Andrés’ Fourth of July
- 6 plum tomatoes, cored
- 1 red bell peppers
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise and papery outer skin removed
- 3⁄4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 dried ñora or ancho chiles (3/4 oz.)
- 1⁄4 cup blanched whole almonds
- 3 slices white sandwich bread, crust removed and torn into small pieces
- 1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
- 1 tsp. sweet paprika
- Kosher salt
- 28 stalks calçots, thick scallions or spring onions (1 1/2 lbs.)
- 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed (1 1/2 lbs.)
- Newspaper, for serving (optional)
- Heat the oven to 350°. In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, and garlic with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Place the vegetables on a foil-lined baking sheet, and roast, turning as needed, until soft, about 25 minutes for the tomatoes, 45 minutes for the pepper and garlic, and 55 minutes for the onion. Transfer to a rack and let cool, then peel and discard the vegetable skins and the seeds from the peppers.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, soak the chiles with 1 cup boiling water, until softened, 15 minutes. Lift the chiles from the soaking liquid, and reserve 1⁄4 cup; discard the remaining liquid. Remove the seeds from the chiles and then transfer to a blender along with the reserved soaking liquid, and purée until smooth; pour the purée through a fine sieve into a bowl.
- In a small saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium. Add the almonds, and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the almonds to a plate and return the pan to the heat. Add the bread to the pan, and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 1 1⁄2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bread to the plate with the almonds and return the pan to the heat. Add the chile puree, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and pour the sauce into a blender. Add the roasted vegetables along with the toasted almonds and bread, 7 tablespoons of the olive oil, the vinegar, and paprika and blend until smooth. Season the Romesco sauce with salt and then scrape into a bowl.
- Light a grill. In a large bowl, toss the calçots and asparagus with the remaining 1⁄4 cup olive oil and season with salt. Place the calçots and asparagus directly on the grill and cook until tender and the outer edges are charred, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the calçots from the grill and wrap them in newspaper to steam, at least 15 minutes.
- Open the newspaper and add the asparagus to the calçots. Smash open the bottom of the calçots, and remove the heart of each from the burned outer skin by pulling it up from the top. Serve the vegetables with the Romesco sauce for dipping.