Grilled Baby Leeks with Romesco Sauce

We absolutely adore leeks, a vegetable that looks like a large scallion, but imparts only a light, buttery onion taste, unlike its bitter cousin.  The leek is surprisingly versatile, and is excellent when roasted with other vegetables or poultry, or puréed for soups, such as vichyssoise.  
Here is an excellent recipe featuring simple grilled leeks with a light and healthy romesco sauce (originated from Catalonia, Spain).  We did substitute home roasted red peppers as we did not have any jars in stock, and served this with marinated grilled chicken. The response was excellent!  Enjoy!
  • 1 small ancho chile, seeded
  • 3 tablespoons hazelnuts
  • Two 1/2-inch-thick slices baguette, toasted and torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons roasted almonds, preferably Marcona, coarsely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes—peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 roasted red pepper from a jar, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 16 baby leeks or thick scallions, trimmed
Light a grill. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small heatproof bowl, cover the ancho with hot tap water and soak until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, in a pie plate, toast the hazelnuts in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly browned. Let the hazelnuts cool, then transfer them to a kitchen towel and rub them together to remove the skins. Transfer the hazelnuts to a work surface and let cool completely, then coarsely chop.
In a food processor, combine the ancho with the hazelnuts, toasted baguette, almonds and garlic and process to a smooth paste. Add the tomatoes, roasted red pepper and vinegar and puree. With the machine on, slowly pour in the 1/4 cup of olive oil and process until blended and smooth. Scrape the romesco sauce into a bowl, stir in the parsley and season with salt and black pepper.
Brush the leeks with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat until charred all over, about 3 minutes. Serve with the romesco sauce alongside.
The romesco sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
*Courtesy Food & Wine Magazine
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