Young leeks with romesco

Young leeks with romesco

Grill Smoke BBQ
Kris Kirkham

Steeped in history, the Calçotada is an annual festival that celebrates calçots, a type of large spring onion indigenous to Catalonia. Traditionally, they are cooked over an open fire until blistered and black on the outside and meltingly tender inside. Festival-goers eat them with their bare hands from newspapers, dipping them in romesco sauce as they go. If you can’t get your hands on calçots, young leeks make a perfect substitute.


Quantity Ingredient
12-16 young leeks, calcots or salad onions
olive oil, for cooking
sea salt
black pepper

For the romesco sauce

Quantity Ingredient
1/2 red onion, diced
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/2 large red pepper, deseeded and diced
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 tablespoon smoked hot paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
50g almonds
50g hazelnuts


  1. Light and set a barbecue for direct/indirect cooking. Place the oak wood to the side of the charcoal to start smoking.
  2. Place all the romesco sauce ingredients, except the vinegar and nuts, into a roasting pan and mix well to coat everything in the oil. Cook in the direct heat zone for 5 minutes, then transfer to the indirect heat zone. Close the lid and vent and cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. When ready, the vegetables should be soft and starting to caramelize, and there shouldn’t be too much liquid – if there is, move the pan to the direct heat zone and let the liquid reduce for a few minutes. Carefully tip the contents of the roasting pan into a blender. Add the nuts, vinegar and seasoning, then purée until smooth.
  3. Toss the leeks in a little olive oil and season them well. Place directly on the grill in the direct heat zone and cook for 4 minutes on each side until charred on the outside and tender inside. Serve straightaway with the romesco sauce.

Serve with

  • Pinchos morunos; Grilled baby artichokes with pine nut purée and poached eggs.


  • You'll also need a lump of oak wood.
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