Is this easy? Yes. Delicious? Absolutely. Unpronounceable. Without a doubt. But I would just concern myself with the first two; you need to know what it tastes like not what it sounds like. Salbitxada comes from the Valls area of Catalunya and it is traditionally served as part of something called the calçotada, a feast of grilled spring onions (known as calçots) eaten whole and served with this sauce. I discovered it in Culinaria Espana, which was the first cookery book I ever worked on, a great lump of a coffee table book full of wonderful recipes like this and snippets of information such as that on the last Sunday in January, the high point of the calçotada, residents and tourists manage to stuff about 3 kilos of these green onions into their mouths in, erm, 45 minutes.
I think this is one of those recipes that is going to change my life, at least my cooking life. It is a pesto that is much more accessible year-round than the classic alla genovese, mainly because it is very store-cupboard-friendly, since it doesn’t require half a ton of some relatively delicate leaf and it seems so versatile. Use it as a dip, whether with some grilled spring onions or some bread, on grilled or baked fish (I think it would go with the white and oily varieties) and, most obviously as a sauce for pasta or gnocchi. You’ll need either a blender/food processor or a pestle and mortar and lots of energy. Oh, and if you were wondering, it’s pronounced salbi-tch-ada (thanks to my Catalan-speaking friend Bartley for advice on the ‘x’).
For a large bowlful (enough for lots of grilled spring onions, a few bowls of pasta or a couple of pieces of fish) you will need:
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
garlic, 6 cloves
olive oil, 125ml
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
whole blanched almonds, 2 tablespoons (about 50g)
small red chillis, 2
tomatoes, 2 large, or 6 plum
red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon
flat-leaf parsley, 1 tablespoon
1. Brown the whole almonds in a dry frying pan, stirring and turning them every so often to prevent them burning.
2. De-stalk and chop the chillis, peel and chop the garlic, chop the parsley, and dice the tomatoes into very small pieces.
3. Put the browned almonds, chillis and garlic into a blender/pestle and blend/grind until you have a thick paste.
4. Tip the paste into a large bowl, add the diced tomatoes, chopped parsley and vinegar.
5. Finally, pour the olive oil in slowly mixing it in gradually. Season to taste.
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