Life for Londonist just keeps getting yummier and yummier since finding ourselves in the good graces of Jennifer Klinec. We’ve been amazed by her kitchen capabilities a few times already. But, with her recent offering of the traditional Catalan dish, calçots (roasted leeks) and romesco sauce (or “vegetarian chorizo in a bowl” as Jennifer describes it), we were absolutely reeling in foodie delight as our taste buds danced a giddy sardana of appreciation.
Jennifer reckons calçots with romesco is an excellent dish to have with close friends when “everyone can get messy together peeling the leeks with their fingers and dipping them into a communal bowl.” We couldn’t agree more and think throwing our own calçotada would be a wonderful way to have a little scrummy fun in good company.
Photography by Chris Osburn
Charred Leeks with Romesco Sauce
This recipe calls for dried Ñora peppers, Marcona almonds, and smoked paprika, all of which can be found at the Spanish deli: Brindisa at Borough Market.
Serves 4 to 6
24 leeks or calçots, washed, dried and trimmed
freshly ground black pepper
10 tbsp olive oil
3 dried Ñora peppers
100 grams Marcona almonds
3 plum tomatoes
1 thick slice chewy, peasant-style crusty bread, either left to go stale or dried in a low oven until hard
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tbsp smoked paprika
4 tbsp red-wine vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon
65 mls olive oil
Preheat your oven to 200C. Place the leeks or calçots in a heavy roasting dish and scatter with the salt and pepper. Drizzle over the olive oil and toss well with your hands until the leeks are lightly coated in the oil. Place the leeks in the oven and roast for 20-30 minutes or until tender and charred all over. Remove and allow to cool slightly.
Meanwhile make the romesco sauce by placing the dried chilies in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 25 minutes to soften, then drain. Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan on medium heat until golden and toasted smelling.
Blanch and peel the plum tomatoes by making an 'x' in the bottom of each tomato. Place in a bowl and pour boiling water over the tomatoes to cover. Leave for 3-4 minutes, then plunge the tomatoes in cold water. Leave for another minute or so and then peel off the skins.
Place the almonds in a mortar and pestle and pound until coarsely ground. Add the garlic, drained Ñora peppers and bread in batches, continue to pound until you have a thick paste.
Scrape the paste into a bowl and add the peeled tomatoes by crushing them lightly into the mixture between your fingers. Stir in the smoked paprika, vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil and season to taste with salt and set aside.
To eat, peel away the charred outer leaves of the leeks and dip the soft inner hearts into the romesco sauce with your fingers.
Find out more about Jennifer and her ability to make taste buds dance at http://eatdrinktalk.co.uk.