Calcots in Romesco Sauce Recipe

After enjoying a fresh harvest of Calcots - or baby leeks for those in the UK, Chef Corrigan has provided a twist on a Spanish classic, ready for you to make at home!

Celebrate the arrival of warmer weather and Irish spring produce, with a recipe from Chef Corrigan 🌱

The Gooseberry Gardens are crammed with Cucurbits at this time of year, and we’re harnessing the harvest by creating a comforting pumpkin soup. Best enjoyed in your cosiest attire, preferably beside a roaring fire.

This twist on a Spanish classic, using Irish produce, is inspired by the Calçotada Festival which takes place in Valls, Tarragona every year. They celebrate the arrival of these mild, many-headed onions, with a party where they are roasted or barbequed and eaten with romesco sauce, followed by grilled meats and plenty of wine! 

Calçots have their own protected geographical status, Indicación Geográfrica Protegida, which means they must be grown within a specific area to certain criteria. What is particular about them is that in summer the tops of the onion bulbs are sliced off, and the rest planted in shallow ground. Once they start to sprout shoots, they are covered in soil – like white asparagus – to keep out the light and force the shoots which stay white. 

Obviously – and unfortunately! – we aren’t growing Calçots in our gardens, and they’re quite hard to get hold of. We are lucky enough to be growing an abundance of beautiful baby leeks, which can be prepared the same way to a similar effect.

Around 24 Baby Leeks – or Calçots if you can get hold of them
Olive Oil

For the Romesco Sauce

4 Red Peppers
Olive Oil
25g Blanched Almonds
25g Blanched Hazelnuts
1 Onion, sliced
4 Cloves Garlic, sliced
2 Red Chillies, deseeded and chopped
Sherry Vinegar

  1. Start the romesco sauce. Preheat the oven to 200c/gas mark 6. Lay the peppers on a roasted tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and put into the oven for 15-2o minutes until starting to blacken. Remove and allow to cool. Peel the peppers, deseed and chop.
  2. Put the almonds and hazelnuts on a tray and put them into the oven very briefly, turning them over and remove once they’ve started to colour.
  3. Heat some more olive oil in a pan, add the onion, garlic and chillies and cook gently to soften. Add the peppers and nuts, stir in a splash of sherry vinegar and adjust the seasoning to taste. Blitz in a food processor for a smooth sauce, or cook down a little further for a chunkier sauce.
  4. Get a griddle pan, grill or barbeque hot, brush the leeks with oil, season and grill on both sides until they soften and begin to char. Serve with the sauce, over plenty of wine with friends.