Grilled Baby Leeks with Romesco Sauce


Tony Mantuano created this recipe, also adapted from Wine Bar Food, in homage to the Calçotada in Spain. The Catalan festival celebrates the harvest of calçots, which are slender onions similar to baby leeks. After peeling the charred outer layers, festival-goers dip the softened onions in a vibrant romesco sauce, which Mantuano makes with sweet red bell peppers. "It's fantastic," Mantuano recalls. "Everyone has black fingers from the char."

Grilled Baby Leeks with Romesco Sauce
Photo: © Quentin Bacon
Total Time:
40 mins


  • 1 small ancho chile, seeded

  • 3 tablespoons hazelnuts

  • Two 1/2-inch-thick slices baguette, toasted and torn into 1-inch pieces

  • 3 tablespoons roasted almonds, preferably Marcona, coarsely chopped

  • 1 garlic clove, chopped

  • 2 plum tomatoes—peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped

  • 1 roasted red pepper from a jar, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1/2 tablespoon sherry vinegar

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 16 baby leeks or thick scallions, trimmed


  1. Light a grill. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small heatproof bowl, cover the ancho with hot tap water and soak until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain.

  2. Meanwhile, in a pie plate, toast the hazelnuts in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly browned. Let the hazelnuts cool, then transfer them to a kitchen towel and rub them together to remove the skins. Transfer the hazelnuts to a work surface and let cool completely, then coarsely chop.

  3. In a food processor, combine the ancho with the hazelnuts, toasted baguette, almonds and garlic and process to a smooth paste. Add the tomatoes, roasted red pepper and vinegar and puree. With the machine on, slowly pour in the 1/4 cup of olive oil and process until blended and smooth. Scrape the romesco sauce into a bowl, stir in the parsley and season with salt and black pepper.

  4. Brush the leeks with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat until charred all over, about 3 minutes. Serve with the romesco sauce alongside.

Make Ahead

The romesco sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Suggested Pairing

To go with these grilled baby leeks, pour Catalonia's (and Spain's) most famous sparkling white wine, Cava. Avinyó's citrusy nonvintage Brut is Mantuano's choice.

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