Catalan salbitxada (sale-bit-ADA) sauce, or Catalan sauce, is eaten with "calçots," which are a special kind of green onion from Cataluna. Char-grilled green onions with salbitxada sauce make both a good "tape" and side dish for spring and summer. Tasty and easy to make, try this sauce recipe with all types of grilled vegetables, not just onions. It also livens up chicken or fish dishes.
More About Calçots
The sauce is served over calçots, which are similar to scallions but are a green onion. Their exact origin is highly disputed. Xat de Benaiges, a peasant farmer from Valls, is said to have developed them around the turn of the 20th century. He grew them when planting garden onions and covering them with soil so a larger portion of them stayed white. The method became known as calçar, which is a gardening method that involves covering the trunk of a plant or veggie with soil. More soil is added as the plant grows.
Valls, which is a town near Tarragona, is a hub for calçot. There is an annual festival there that is centered around the scallion.
The traditional way to cook calçots is to grill them on a barbecue. They are wrapped in newspaper and served on a terra cotta tile instead of a plate. In this recipe, they are topped with the salbitxada sauce, which is a flavorful tomato sauce that is made with peppers and garlic.
Calçots grow between 15 and 25 centimeters, and they are milder in taste than onions. They are similar to leeks and are bigger than a typical green onion.
- Heat oven to 350 F.
- Place almonds in a hot oven to toast them for 5 to 7 minutes. Place in a food processor or mortar and pestle and coarsely grind.
- Peel and dice tomatoes and set them aside.
- Coarsely chop the peppers, removing the seeds and membranes. Peel and chop the garlic. Mash ground almonds, peppers, and garlic into a paste using a mortar and pestle or food processor.
- Mix in tomatoes, parsley, and vinegar.
- Pulsing the food processor, drizzle in the olive oil until the sauce becomes thick. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with grilled calçots (green onions) or any other grilled vegetable. During summer months, consider serving this fresh sauce with grilled steaks, chicken or fish.