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Blistered leeks with Romesco & garlicky sauce

Blistered leeks with Romesco & garlicky sauce

posted on 21 March 2017 by admin

"Leeks are the closest thing to the Catalan national vegetable, calçots, a variety of green onion grown over two years that gets its name from the Catalan word for boot, a reference to their muddy little feet clumped together at the root. The traditional way to cook calçots is blistered over charcoal till blackened on the outside but soft and juicy within. The proper accompaniment is a almond dipping sauce,salsa romesco. But since all grilled vegetables are delicious with a garlicky green sauce, salsa verde, good reason to serve both."

Serves 3-4 as a starter


12 medium-sized leeks with their green

Salsa romesco

1 heaped tablespoon toasted almonds, roughly crushed

2-3 garlic cloves, crushed and skinned

1 tablespoon hot pimento

1 can red peppers under oil

1 tablespoon fresh breadcrumbs

Salt and sugar

Salsa verde

150ml olive oil

1 tablespoon rough salt

4-5 garlic cloves, crushed and skinned

Generous handful flat-leaf parsley, stripped from stalks

Lemon juice


Trim the leeks, leaving the root and most of the green, and split the tops down to the white so you can rinse out any sand.   

         First prepare the sauces.

         For the romesco, whizz the almonds, garlic and pimenton in the liquidiser till roughly crushed.  Add the peppers and their oil and whizz to blend.  Add enough breadcrumbs to set the sauce. Taste and add salt and sugar (maybe a little more oil?).

         For the salsa verde, place all the ingredients in the liquidiser and whizz till well-blended. Taste and add enough lemon-juice to sharpen the flavour.

         Arrange the leeks on the grill-pan – never mind about the green, just let it flop over the edge.  Turn the leeks over the heat till the outside blisters black, testing for done-ness with a knife-point – the insides should be tender.

         To serve, for perfect Catalan authenticity, dump the leeks on newspaper on the table with the sauces in bowls for dipping. Eat with your fingers as soon as the leeks are cool enough to peel. Messy but delicious. Provide plenty of bread or new potatoes for mopping.