Salvitxada & Calçots (Scallions with Almond and Tomato Dip)

Salvvitxcada is the name of the sauce that the Catalan serve with calçots, a species of scallions that is typical for Catalonia. But you could easily replace the calçots with normal scallions. It’s the Salvitxcada that makes the dish!

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Salvitxada is a sauce eaten with Calçots

In this recipe we feature two ingredients that are very special and almost solely found in Eastern Spain: calçots and ñora, the first being a specific type of scallion and the second a specific type of capsicum.  Yet, they are easily replaced with ingredients that are more commonly available, without the dish being any less tastefull.

Dip your Calçots in the Salvitxada

Calçots is a species of scallions that has been developed in Valls in Catalonia. The difference with regular scallions is that while growing, extra soil is added. As a result the white part is longer.

The taste is said to be a bit more moderate than scallions. We haven’t had the honor to judge for ourselves, although we did make this recipe while staying in Catalonia, no calçots are to be found in summer. Scallions however proved themselves to be a perfect stand-in.

Calçots are traditionally prepared on a barbecue and when taken off wrapped in a newspaper such that they steam a bit more and won’t cool down. We used El País, but any newspaper would do :-). Instead of a barbecue, you could also use an oven.

You use the Calçots to scoop the best part of this traditional Catalan dish: the Salvitxada.

Ñora: the official capsicum to spice up your Salvitxada

The capsicum has many variaties. In Eastern Spain there is one called ñora, sometimes spelled nyora. It’s a small and almost round (or cubicle if you wish). You’re supposed to dry it for the flesh to give a very full taste.

If you’re not in Spain, chances are very slim you can get hold of one. Use half a sweet red pepper instead. We made both a version with ñora and one with a sweet red pepper and the substitute works really well. (Truth be told: we made Salvitxada three times in one week, very much reminded us of our peanut sauce week).

If you can get hold of Mexican ancho chilies: that’s also a very good substitute, but you need to be in the right place to get your hands on those too. (For example: Mexico :-)). 

Kitchen Utensils

  • Food Processor (or mortar and pestle)
  • Oven

Ingredients

As a tapa (side dish) for 4 persons

Ingredients for Spanish Salvitxada, or Salsa de Calçots
  • 6 tomatoes, roasted
  • 1 small handful of almonds, blanched
  • 1 bulb of garlic, roasted
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped up
  • 1 slice of stale bread (substitute with a slice of toasted bread)
  • 4 tablespoons of vinegar
  • 2 dried ñoras (substitute with half sweet red pepper, roasted)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 120-240 ml (½ – 1 cup) of olive oil
  • 20 scallions (or calçots)
Ñora peppers: dried and fresh
This is the Ñora pepper. On top the fresh version and below the dried version.

How to make Salvitxada

Prep time: 30 min.

  1. Preheat the oven at 180° C (350 F).

  2. Remove the ends of the stems of the scallions and rinse them.

  3. Slide the scallions into the oven in a roasting pan.
    At the same time, use a separate roasting pan and put the 6 tomatoes and the bulb of garlic into the oven as well. (If you don’t have dried ñora, add the sweet red pepper as well. If you don’t have stale bread, add a slice of bread to the oven as well and roast for some 5 minutes.)

  4. Blanch the handful of almonds by dropping them into boiling water for about 2 minutes. Separately, blanch the dried ñoras for about 2 minutes as well.

  5. After 10 minutes, check on the scallions. If the green parts start to burn a bit, they’re ready. If they’re ready, take them out and wrap in a newspaper.
    Leave the tomatoes, the bulb of garlic and the sweet red pepper in.

  6. Cut the stale (or roasted) bread in small cubes and let the cubes soak in 4 tablespoons of vinegar.

  7. Meanwhile, crush 2 cloves of garlic and add to the food processor together with 50 ml (¼ cup) of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt.

  8. Add the almonds to the food processor as well. You can peel them if you wish. If you do so, your sauce will be a bit lighter in color. Blend well. Peel and seed the ñoras and add the flesh to the food processor as well.

  9. After 20 minutes of roasting, take the tomatoes, the garlic bulb and the sweet red pepper out of the oven. Peel the tomatoes, garlic and pepper and seed the pepper. Add to the food processor as well.

  10. Blend well. If needed add extra olive oil slowly while blending until the structure is to your liking.

Serve together with the scallions. When eating, remove the outer layer of the scallions before dipping and eating them.

Salvitxada is a sauce similar to Romesco but not quite the same

Summary

Recipe: Salvitxada & Calçots
Country: Spain
Prep:
Cook:
Total:
Ingredients: tomato, almonds, scallions, calçots, garlic, stale bread, ñora, vinegar, olive oil
Type of meal: snack, tapa, side dish

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