Why It Works
- Grilling and toasting the sauce ingredients lend creates a deeper, smoky flavor.
- Sherry vinegar adds a complex and round brightness to the sauce.
Xató is a salad from the Catalonia region of Spain that features an alluringly bright and nutty romesco-like sauce made from peppers, tomatoes, almonds, sherry vinegar, and more. It's traditionally served with a varied mix of fish and vegetables, but we've found it's also delicious on grilled vegetables, even more so when the sauce ingredients themselves are grilled first before puréeing.
- 1/4 cup almonds (1 3/4 ounces; 50g), wrapped in a small foil packet
- 1/4 cup hazelnuts (1 1/4 ounces; 35g), wrapped in a small foil packet
- 1-2 Fresno chiles, depending on your desired heat level (see note)
- 1 medium tomato (6 ounces; 170g), cut in half
- 1 small slice crust-on country bread
- 1 medium clove garlic
- 1/4 cup sherry vinegar (60ml)
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (120ml), plus more for drizzling
- Kosher or sea salt
- 3 endives (350g), cut in half lengthwise, mixed red and white if possible
- 1 bunch of spring onions (520g), about 6 (2-3 bunches large scallions are a good substitute), root ends trimmed
- 6 oil-packed anchovy fillets, for garnish (optional)
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over half of coal grate. Alternatively, set all the burners of a gas grill to high heat. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate.
Place almond and hazelnut packets on the cooler side of grill and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly brown and fragrant, 5-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, place chilies and tomato halves over hot side of grill and cook, turning occasionally, until chilies are dark and blistered on all sides and tomato is charred in spots, about 5 minutes. Let cool, then discard seeds and stems from chilies.
Set bread over hot side of grill and cook, turning, until toasted on both sides.
In a blender, combine chilies (see note), tomato, almonds, hazelnuts, bread, garlic, sherry vinegar, and 1/4 cup cold water. Blend until a thick purée forms, then add olive oil and blend until incorporated. Season with salt. You should have about 2 cups sauce, which can be kept refrigerated for up to 1 week.
To make the salad, lightly dress endives and spring onions with olive oil, then grill over high heat, turning, until charred in spots. Chop endives and spring onions and transfer to a serving bowl. Spoon a generous dollop of sauce on top, add anchovies, if using, and serve. Salad can be warm or at room temperature. The remaining sauce can be used as a condiment for sandwiches, a dip for vegetables, and more.
Fresno chilies are relatively mild, though some can be hotter than others. It may be a good idea to grill two peppers, but then start by blending one into the sauce, tasting, and adding the second only if desired at that point.