Is romesco becoming the new pesto? Just as our obsession with Italian cooking turned that Ligurian sauce of basil, nuts and olive oil into a near-staple, the increasing interest in Spanish cooking is doing the same for romesco, essentially peppers, nuts and tomatoes ground together until they're nearly smooth.
If so, it couldn't happen to a nicer sauce. "Earthy, toothsome, definitely habit-forming, romesco is rough magic in a bowl," wrote staff writer Amy Scattergood when she developed this recipe. Romesco can be used in any number of ways -- spooned into a soup, served on fish, or simply smeared on bread. But one of the most traditional uses is in the classic Catalan dish calcotada: grilled bread topped with grilled spring onions and grilled shrimp. In Spain, it's traditionally served only in the spring, but if you ask us, this is good enough to eat any time.
4 to 8
1 pound tail-on large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 bunches large spring onions, bulbs trimmed of their roots and greens attached
Best-quality olive oil, preferably Spanish
1 loaf pain rustique or country white bread, sliced 3/4 -inch thick on the diagonal
1. Heat a grill
over medium heat. Toss the shrimp and the onions with a little olive oil and a sprinkling of salt; brush the bread with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
2. Grill the onions
until the bulbs are tender and with good grill marks and the green parts are somewhat charred, several minutes. Rotate the onions occasionally with tongs for even grilling. Set aside.
3. Clean the surface
of the grill and cook the shrimp next, rotating for even grilling just until the flesh is opaque and firm.
4. Clean the surface
of the grill and grill the bread, rotating for even grilling. Serve the warm bread, shrimp and onions on a platter with a large bowl of romesco sauce in the center for dipping.
Each of 8 servings: