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Roasted eggplant, peppers, onion and tomatoes, Catalan-style

Escalivada Catalana

Photography by Pablo de Loy

From Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America (Clarkson Potter)

Escalivada comes from the Catalan verb escalivar, which is the process of cooking food slowly very close to the embers of a barbecue. The smokiness of the charcoal enriches the food and gives it an earthy quality. This recipe is for oven roasting, but its soul comes from the open fire. It’s a great dish on its own, but it’s also perfect as a garnish for any grilled meat.

Serves 4

1 medium eggplant
2 Spanish onions
1 red bell pepper
3 large ripe tomatoes
¼ cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
½ tablespoon sherry vinegar
Salt and white pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Take all the vegetables and, using a brush, coat them with a thin film of olive oil. Place them in a baking tray or in a terracotta casserole, and roast the vegetables for 40 minutes. Remove the eggplant, pepper, and tomatoes and set aside. Leave the onion in the oven for another 15 minutes until it too is soft. Remove and set aside

By now the skins of the vegetables will be soft and loose. When cool enough to handle, peel the skins off the vegetables. Seed the pepper and remove the top. Remove the top of the tomato and the eggplant with a knife.

 

Using your hands, tear the pepper into strips and the tomato into three or four pieces. Do the same to the eggplant. With a knife, slice the onion into rings. Mix the vegetables together and place them in a serving dish. Cover them with the ¼ cup olive oil and the sherry vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

José’s tips
If you have a barbecue, the ideal way to do this dish is on charcoal outdoors. In any case, this is a dish you can prepare days ahead and store in your refrigerator. It’s wonderful served hot or cold.