with Romesco & Charred Scallions
by Erin Hawley
I’m the kind of home cook who rarely follows a recipe. Baking gives me anxiety pangs because I’ve had too many mishaps and disappointments from forgetting to add a half teaspoon of baking powder or counting the wrong number of egg yolks for my custard. I don’t like to be told instructions. Being in the kitchen is a time for me to relax and improvise and taste and trust my instincts.
Jeremy Fox’s book, On Vegetables, is quite methodical. Every recipe is layered and requires more concentration and time than a typical weeknight meal. But there’s something unique about the way he writes his recipes. You can tell he’s trusting and championing you in the kitchen. He wants you to taste and improvise and trust your instincts—he’s just giving you a roadmap on how to get there. This book elevates humble vegetables to take center stage using techniques and flavors that would typically be reserved for an expensive cut of meat or fish. It’s a celebration of seasonality and regionality and a beautiful book to look at from cover-to-cover. If you’re looking for an impressive dish to cook on a day off, this book should be your go-to.
This particular dish of Potato Beignets with Romesco & Charred Scallions is inspired by the Catalan preparation of calcots—giant charred green onions, dipped ceremoniously in Romesco and eaten with your hands. This elevated interpretation of crispy, puffy potato beignets is reminiscent of the smoky, savory flavor of calcots, but looks more like it belongs in a restaurant. You’ll want to set aside some time for this one. It’s a good Sunday project. You’ll need to be meticulous with each step, but the payoff you’ll get in developed, complex flavors and textures is very much worth the effort.