We've posted already about the wonders of baby garlic; its flavor when raw is actually stronger than its bulbous, papery big brother, but when cooked mellows to a slightly grassy sweetness. Scallions are common, but can actually be sharper than new onions; leeks are well-known but are not really meant to be eaten raw.
Less well-known are a European variety of scallions, known in the Catalan language (spoken around Barcelona) as calçots.
These cousins of the onion are much wider in the base than traditional
scallions and have a much milder onion taste when raw. The traditional
way to grow them is to hill dirt around the stalk as they grow, so that
there is as much white as possible.
The calçots available at markets are not the traditional calçots de
Valls (a protected name and available only in Catalunya), but a similar
variety, sometimes marketed as Japanese scallions. Choose plants with the longest white part possible, and make
sure the roots look fresh and perky. The season for these is extremely
short, so enjoy while you can.
The traditional way to cook calçots is to throw a giant party called a
calçotada, where you grill the calçots over wood or grapevines and
serve them in huge piles. To eat them, peel off the burned layer and
dip them in small bowls of salvitxada, a sauce made of almonds,
tomatoes, a huge amount of garlic, oil and vinegar. Chase the calçots
with cava (the Catalonian answer to Champagne, but slightly lighter and
fruitier and much, much cheaper) or a big, burly Spanish red such as a
Priorat or an Alt Penedès.