Charred spring onions with romesco sauce









You might have gathered my recent adoration for Spanish food and its regional cuisines. I never really had caught the bug and was hardly interested in the regional cuisines except for this gorgeous preparation for Swiss chard and tapas, of course. Then… I went to Spain a few weeks ago, had an epiphany, surrendered & repented my former erroneous ways and stuffed my suitcase full of glorious things from the market including a huge bag of Marcona almonds.

One of the dishes I ate was a simple but really flavourful starter (it’s all about the ingredients, I tell you): grilled asparagus drizzled with this aromatic, tangy & smoky romesco sauce which I immediately swore to recreate when back at home with anything from the barbecue. Thankfully the weather is in on the plan and provides us with a few days of near-summer experience and I am throwing everything I get my hands onto the fire. Sigh.

To celebrate the arrival of spring and the bulbous spring onions, calçotadas are held throughout Catalonia where a special variety of spring onion (calçot) is grilled on open fire and served with salsa salvitxada, a close relation of the better known salsa romesco, the almond, tomato & mild chilli sauce served with fish or vegetables.

This is a quick romesco sauce, blended together by using pantry staples & a machine instead of elbow grease and a pestle & mortar: tinned tomatoes (ideally fire roasted) as well as dried & ground pimentón dulce, sweet Spanish smoked paprika rather then roasting whole heads of garlic & tomatoes over a fire respectively in the oven and hunting down the authentic whole ñora peppers and rehydrating them – not that I am against that but when pressed for time, this is a fantastic approximation. Substitute ancho or morita chiles if those are in your larder. I use exclusively almonds here (see suitcase), other recipes mix them with either hazelnuts and / or toasted bread.


spring onions with romesco sauce

Charred spring onions with romesco sauce

Yield: a 300ml jar of sauce / a little more than 1 cup of sauce


4 fat garlic cloves, peeled
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
40g blanched Marcona almonds
2 tablespoons pimentón dulce (Spanish sweet roasted paprika)
1 small tin of date tomatoes, you’ll need 2/3 of it (fire roasted tomatoes if you can get those)
1½-2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
salt, pepper

spring onions or scallions


Make the sauce: Slowly sauté the garlic cloves in olive oil for about 10 minutes (low heat) until golden brown and fragrant. Toast the blanched Marcona almonds and leave to cool slightly. Place almonds, garlic & paprika in a blender and mix to a coarse paste, add tomatoes, vinegar, salt & pepper and blend again to a slightly coarse sauce. Of course, this can all be done with elbow grease – more authentic – in a pestle & mortar.

Barbecue spring onions (I caged them in two mesh frames from the Asian shop for easy manoeuvring and no escapees) until tender crisp & charred in places and serve with a drizzle of olive oil and the wonderful romesco sauce.




Deutsches Rezept:

Charred spring onions with salsa romesco

Gegrillte Frühlingszwiebeln mit Romescosauce

Das Saucenrezept ergibt ein 300ml Glas.


4 dicke Knoblauchzehen, gepellt
3-4 EL Olivenöl
40g blanchierte Marcona Mandeln
2 EL Pimentón dulce (Spanischer edelsüßer Paprika mit leichter Rauchnote)
1 kleine Dose Datteltomaten, man braucht ca. 2/3 (ideal wären gegrillte oder feuergeröstete, falls man diese irgendwann auch hier bekommt)
1½-2 TL Rotweinessig
Salz & Pfeffer



Für die Romescosauce Knoblauchzehen in Olivenöl über kleiner Flamme für mindestens 10 Minuten langsam sautieren bis sie goldbraun sind. Die blanchierten Mandeln in einer trockenen Pfanne toasten und abkühlen lassen. Mandeln, Knoblauch & Paprika in der Küchenmaschine zu einer groben Paste zerkleinern, dann Tomaten und etwas von der Flüssigkeit, Essig, Salz & Pfeffer hinzugeben und alles in kurzen Intervallen zu einer leicht körnigen Sauce mixen. Das geht natürlich auch etwas authentischer im Mörser mit Muskelkraft.

Frühlingszwiebeln grillen bis sie anschaulich geröstet, aber immer noch frisch und knackig sind. Meine habe ich in zwei Grillvorrichtungen aus Draht (Asialaden) fixiert damit das Grillen und Wenden ohne Verluste klappt. Auf einer Platte anrichten, mit etwas Olivenöl beträufeln und der Sauce servieren.





11 thoughts on “Charred spring onions with romesco sauce

  1. Absolutely delightful! I love your romesco recipe and can imagine how incredible it is with charred spring onions. We grill onions quite often so i’m going to make your sauce next time for sure. Oh, and your ingredient lists 1 small tin of date tomatoes, would that be “diced”? 🙂

    • HI Seana, thank you very much and love to hear how it went. I used ‘datterini tomatoes”, small date-shaped tomatoes grown on the hill. You could use diced tomatoes for sure, though since you are in the US, fire-roasted ones are preferable. N xx

      • I’ve never heard of datterini tomatoes! We do have a small shaped tomato available. They are small Marzano tomatoes. Fire roasted sounds perfect.

  2. Romesco goes with nearly anything, I even tend to eat it on its own when no one is looking. It hangs on the best ingredients and here, of course, you have them all. Perfect summer food. Thank you for whisking my thoughts off to sunny Spain. J x

    • My pleasure for whisking you off to Spain, Jeanette and great minds not only think alike – I was just engaging in some quality control and made sure the sauce was still ok…. For a moment I had wondered how you managed to smuggle a camera into our fridge, phew. N xx

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