Grilled Leeks with Romesco (Calçotada)

This is a version of the Spanish dish of calçots. It is used to celebrate the spring, and served with Romesco in a celebration called Calçotada.

Grilled Leeks with Romesco (Calçotada)

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6Source Adapted from Penelope CasasPublished

serves 6
Dried nora chiles may be order online at www​.latienda​.com or you may substitute dried New Mexican chilis.


  • 32 clove garlic, peeled and left whole
  • ½ pound plum tomatoes, left whole
  • 1 cup plus 6 t olive oil, plus more as needed
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 dried nora chilis– cores, stems and seeds removed
  • 24 blanched alomonds
  • 24 blanched hazelnuts
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, roughly chopped
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon spanish pimenton powder
  • 12 baby leeks
  • kosher salt as needed


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

Place the garlic and tomatoes in a roasting pan, then roast in the oven 30 minutes, until the garlic is softened and lightly brown. Transfer the garlic and tomatoes to a saucepan and add the oil, vinegar, and noras. Simmer on very, very low heat, stirring occasionally. The oil should barely bubble and form a clear ring around the vegetables. Simmer this way about 1 ½ hours.

Raise the heat in the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the almond and hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast them slightly, about 4 minutes. Transfer the warm nuts to a food processor and grind to a sandy consistency. Add the nuts and salt to the garlic and tomatoes and let them cook with the vegetables for the last half hour of their total cooking time. 

Let the tomato mixture cool slightly, and then scrape it along with the hard-boiled egg, cayenne and pimento into the food processor. Process until very smooth. Adjust consistency with more olive oil drizzled in as the machine whirls as needed.

Prepare a moderate charcoal fire for indirect grilling. Slice the leeks in half (quarters if they are very large). Do not trim the root end so that they stay intact during grilling. Carefully rinse the leeks of any grit between the layers. Dry thoroughly.

Pour the remaining 6 tablespoons of olive oil onto a rimmed baking sheet. Roll the leeks in the oil, getting them well coated; season with kosher salt.

Place the leeks over indirect heat; cover the grill and cook, turning occasionally for good coloring until soft and nicely charred. You may need to move them to direct heat in the last few minutes to get the amount of char you like. Serve hot with the romesco sauce on the side, or drizzled on top.