In Barcelona, there is a great food tradition going on at this time of year. It involves the smell of outdoor wood burning fires! Ahhhh…the sweet smell of food grilling over an open flame. I’m in heaven! Most of you know me as the “pyromaniac” on our farm. I take my hats off to the Larrabee fire department, my husband, family and friends for understanding this pleasurable disorder of mine. My husband has even suffered for it, burning his hairy chest and all, as I recall on a crisp sunny, but snow covered March weekend…memories. But, let’s get back to the great tradition of cooking and eating “Calcots”!
What are they, you ask?….
Calcots are beautiful layers of long green tubular vegetables with white bulbs and roots coming out from one end! Sound familiar? Well, they are…. because they are in the onion familiar. Actually, they are a cross between green onions and leeks. They are larger than a green onion and milder in taste, and are a variety of scallion from Lleida, here in the region of Cataluna. The calcot from Valls, Tarragona is registered as a protected geographical indication by the European Union! And another good thing about these types of onions, is that you don’t have to cut them! No more tears! Like when you normally cut an onion, and certain compounds are released causing the lachrymal glands in the eyes to become irritated, releasing tears.
Onions are known to have many medicinal and nutritional values such as: anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidants. Green onions are a good source of Vitamin A and C, iron, calcium, and fiber. The onion family is associated with reducing the risks of heart disease, osteoporosis, and head and neck cancers. You can learn more about onions in my next Savoring Words events listed under www.marymeloy.com/events .
The season begins the last weekend in January and runs through February and March. The traditional Catalan method of cooking the calcots is to grill them over a flaming barbecue. The calcots are then wrapped in newspaper, which makes them steam and become more tender. They are served on a terra cotta roof tile, rather than on a plate, keeping them warm. Usually they are served first as an appetizer with Pan de Tomate (bread with tomatoe, oil and garlic) – the recipe link is: pan de tomato
Diners peel away the blackened outer layers, and then dip the tender bulbs in salvitxada sauce, a sauce made of almonds, tomatoes, garlic, peppers, vinegar and oil. Here’s the link to the recipe for the sauce Salbitxada sauce for Calcots
Of course the best part is eating them!!!! And they even have contests to see who could eat the most. Check this one out – calcots-calcotada-catalonia