Burnt Leek Parcels with Romesco Sauce
Pass the parcel was one of my favourite party games as a kid. Who says you can’t play it as a grown-up? This recipe is all about wrapping up some Catalonian flavours, letting your guests unpack the surprise.
Burning the leeks adds a slight smokiness, and for those who are a dab hand at burning things in the kitchen, this one is for you. The burnt parts are peeled off to reveal the juicy, sweet and tender leek underneath - perfect for dunking into the nutty, fresh romesco sauce. During springtime it’s a Catalan tradition to serve romesco sauce with young spring onions, or calçots, which work in a similar way to leeks in this recipe.
|3||medium red peppers|
|1 clove||of garlic, peeled|
|4 tbsp||extra virgin olive oil|
|½ tsp||sweet smoked paprika|
|1 tbsp||sherry vinegar|
|Optional: sea salt and lemon juice, to taste|
You will need a blender or food processor and 4 pages of newspaper.
Preheat the grill to high. Cut your peppers in half and remove the seeds. Place skin side up on an oiled baking tray and grill for 15 -20 minutes, or until black and tender. Then place in a plastic bag and leave to steam for about 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skins and set the flesh aside.
Toast the pine nuts in a small frying pan, shaking constantly for about 3 minutes, or until golden. Tip them on to a plate to cool. Place them in a blender or food processor with the grilled peppers, garlic, olive oil and breadcrumbs. Blitz and check the seasoning. Add the paprika for some heat, the sherry vinegar for an acidic kick, then salt and lemon juice if necessary.
Lay the leeks, spread apart, on a tray or rack (you may have to do this in batches). Grill for about 8 minutes, or until blackened, turning them every couple of minutes. Wrap 3 leeks in a piece of newspaper to make a parcel, then repeat with the remaining leeks so that you have 4 bundles. They will steam in the paper until ready to serve.
Place the romesco in a jar or bowl and let everyone open up their own parcel, peeling away the outer burnt leaves and dunking the soft, sweet interior straight into the sauce.
Try using Spanish Marcona almonds instead of pine nuts. These are often salted, so check the seasoning before adding any more salt to the sauce.
You can play around with the consistency of this sauce by altering the quantity of olive oil, and use it as a dressing or as a paste for crostini.
The romesco sauce will keep well in the fridge for 2-3 days.