Grilled Green Onions, Artichokes, and Asparagus with Salsa Romesco
For the vegetables
- 1 lemon
- 4 artichokes
- 3 tablespoons California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil
- 16 very fat spring or green onions or baby leeks, preferably about 3/4 inch in diameter
- 16 large asparagus spears
- California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil for brushing
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the romesco sauce
- 2 ancho chiles
- 2 red bell peppers
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts
- 1/2 cup blanched almonds
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 slice bread, fried in California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil until golden and crisp and torn into pieces (optional)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sweet paprika or sweet smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon hot paprika or hot smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil
- Fill a large bowl with cold water. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the water. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, remove all of the tough, dark green outer leaves until you reach the pale green leaves. Cut off the prickly tops and trim off the end of the stem Peel the stem and the dark green, tough outer layer from the base. Cut the artichoke in half, and scoop out the choke from each half with the tip of a spoon or a paring knife. Drop the halves into the lemon water to prevent discoloration.
- When all of the artichokes are trimmed, bring a saucepan filled with salted water to a boil. Drain the artichokes, add to the boiling water with the California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil, and cook until just tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes. Drain, immediately immerse in cold water to halt the cooking, and then drain again. Set aside.
- Soak 8 bamboo skewers in water to cover. Trim off the roots from the green onions and all but 4 inches of the green. Refill the saucepan with salted water, bring to a boil, add the onions, and cook at a simmer until the heads feel tender and crack slightly when you pinch them with your fingers, 8 to 10 minutes depending on their size. Do not undercook them because they will not soften much during grilling. Drain, immediately immerse in cold water to halt the cooking, and then drain again. Squeeze them dry. Drain 4 of the skewers and thread 4 onions on each skewer. Set aside.
- Trim off the tough ends from the asparagus spears, and then, using a vegetable peeler, peel the bottom half of each spear. Refill the saucepan with salted water, bring to a boil, add the asparagus, and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain, immediately immerse in cold water to halt the cooking, and then drain again. Drain the remaining 4 skewers and thread 4 asparagus spears on each skewer.
- Prepare a fire in a charcoal or gas grill. Brush the artichokes, onions, and asparagus with the California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place over the fire and grill, turning as needed, until well browned and a little charred on all sides.
- Transfer the vegetables to a platter, slipping them free of the skewers, and serve. Provide each diner with a bowl of the romesco for dipping.
For the romesco sauce
- Remove the stems and seeds from the ancho chiles and discard. Place the chiles in a small saucepan with water to cover, bring to a boil, remove from the heat, and let steep for 30 minutes. (You may need to weight down the chiles with a small plate to keep them submerged.)
- Roast the bell peppers over the flame of a gas burner, turning as needed, until blistered and charred on all sides (or roast in a broiler). Transfer to a bowl, cover, and let rest for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F oven. Spread the hazelnuts on a small rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven, stirring occasionally, until they are fragrant and their color deepens, about 10 minutes. Wrap the still-warm nuts in a dish towel and rub vigorously until most of the skins are removed (tiny flecks are okay), and then let cool. Toast the almonds on a separate baking sheet until fragrant and golden, about 8 minutes. Pour onto a plate to cool.
- Drain the chiles, tear into small pieces, and place them in a small bowl. Peel the roasted peppers with your fingers, scraping off any stubborn pieces with a paring knife (a few flakes clinging to the peppers are okay), and discard the seeds and thick membranes. Cut the peppers into medium-sized pieces. Add to the ancho chiles.
- In a blender or food processor, combine the hazelnuts, almonds, garlic, and bread, if using, and pulse until finely ground. Add the chiles and peppers, sweet and hot paprika, tomato paste, and vinegar and process to combine. With the machine running, slowly pour in the California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil and process until the mixture emulsifies. Season to taste with salt and then adjust with more vinegar and/or hot paprika if needed.
- Transfer to a tightly covered container and refrigerate until needed. Bring to room temperature before serving.