We’re always looking for fun, new ways to enjoy outdoor cooking. Apart from the usual grilling suspects—burgers and dogs and slabs of this or that—we know that many vegetables make excellent candidates for grilling, where the heat and smoke of the grill bring out deeply nuanced flavors and textures. Think planks of zucchini or slices of eggplant (as in our Ultimate Grilled Vegetable Sandwich).
To mix things up, we looked to something slightly unexpected yet altogether familiar: the humble scallion.
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We’ve grilled scallions before but mostly to use as components of other things: a burger or taco topping or an element of a salad or salsa. To let this everyday ingredient shine, we found inspiration in a traditional Catalan feast (from the province of Tarragona on the Mediterranean coast) known as the calçotada (“calsotada”), which celebrates the harvest of slender, local onions called calçots (“calsots”). In Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America (2005), Chef José Andrés concurs, “[The tradition of calçotadas] has a great future in America.”
At calçotadas, calçots are grilled over open fires until their outer layers are blackened. Then they are wrapped in newspaper and left to soften before being unwrapped, peeled of their outer layers, dragged through vibrant romesco (sometimes called salvitxada or salsa de calçots), and devoured.
Grilled ScallionsMake scallions the star of your next outdoor party with this Catalan-inspired combination.
To re-create this festive experience in our own backyards, we had to make a few adaptations to the cooking method, primarily because scallions are smaller than calçots and need only be lightly charred rather than blackened. And their outer layers can be enjoyed rather than discarded.
To complete the dish, we developed a recipe for traditional romesco made from dried ñora chiles, tomatoes, garlic, nuts, bread, olive oil, and vinegar. Many versions outside Catalonia (including some of our recipes) omit the tomato and dried chile and rely on roasted red peppers; this recipe favors the classic tomato and dried chile components.
Traditional RomescoThis dipping sauce pairs delightfully with our grilled scallions.
We love to serve our grilled scallions with romesco, but they are also delicious with a squeeze of lemon or a simple vinaigrette as an easy summer side.