Spring onions rarely get a chance to shine. They are always relegated to playing fourth or fifth fiddle. But the spring onion has much more to offer than being a bit player in a soup. From now until the end of the summer, farmers' markets all over Maryland will offer these pungent alliums in sizes ranging from pencil thin to baseball thick. They're a cheap and easy way to impress your friends and family at a cookout (using our recipe, natch).
This recipe brings out our inner terrible cook because it encourages us to burn our food. In Spain, there is a cousin of the spring onion called a calcot that is roasted black over grape vines, the burnt outer layer is peeled off and then the onion is dipped into a sweet and spicy red pepper and tomato sauce called romesco. This recipe is exactly the same, except we're using spring onions. It's best to eat these outside because of the mess, but if you peel them for your guests, you can enjoy them inside. Remember to only eat the white to light green parts of the onions as the green parts become a bit too stringy and tough to chew.
Spring onions cooked calcot style with Romesco sauce
4 bunches of large spring onions (approximately 20-24), root ends removed
Paper shopping bag or newspaper
1/2 large onion
2 red peppers
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup toasted almonds
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts
1/4 cup olive oil
1 slice country bread 1 inch thick
1 ounce sherry vinegar (you can use apple cider as a substitute)
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup water
Get one half of your grill rocket hot. Place the white part of the spring onions over the fire. Grill until charred black all around the onion. Place the burnt onions into a paper shopping bag or wrap them in newspaper to steam out and cool down. For the sauce, char the red peppers black over the grill and then place into a plastic bag or a covered heat-proof bowl to steam and cool. Slightly char the tomatoes and onion and move them to a grill-proof pan that is off of the fire and bake in the covered grill for 45 minutes. When cool enough to touch, chop the onion and tomato into large chunks. Peel and seed the roasted red peppers and place into a blender along with the tomatoes, onion, garlic almonds, hazelnuts, olive oil, bread, vinegar, paprika, ancho chili powder, salt and water. Blend until saucy. You can make it chunky or smooth, it's your choice. Serve immediately with the spring onions. To eat, just pinch the side of the onion peel it and then dip it into the romesco sauce.