Thursday, February 26, 2015

Escalivada - Mediterranean Roasted Veggies

Escalivada is a traditional Catalan dish consisting of smoky grilled vegetables. Traditionally, it was prepared in the embers of a wood fire, but today we also prepare it on the grill, the stove or in the oven. During barbecue season, I love preparing this dish by placing the vegetables directly on a grate over the grill or even directly on the glowing coals. However, using a grill takes a lot of time and makes a lot of dirt. Therefore, I usually grill escalivada in the oven. Although this way is cleaner and faster, I still recommend using real fire when possible. I love eating escalivada served with rice.
Mediterranean Roasted Veggies
Escalivada is by far one of my favorite ways to prepare vegetables. It tastes slightly smoky and sweet at the same time, and the vegetables are so tender that practically melt in your mouth. Another thing that makes escalivada so perfect is that it can be served cold as well, meaning that you can cook it early in the morning and have plenty of time to prepare a feast for lunch. 
Mediterranean Roasted Veggies
This is how the vegetables should look like after letting them sit for about 1 hour
Ingredients
1 bell pepper of each color (green, yellow and red)
1 eggplant
3 medium tomatoes
2 onions
1 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste (for serving)

Directions
Preheat oven at 180° C.

Wash vegetables.

Coat each vegetable with a little bit of olive oil. In order to use the minimum oil possible, I like to impregnate my hands with some drops of olive oil and then carefully rub them over the vegetables' skin. Make sure they are completely wet but not too soaked in oil. 

Place the peppers and the eggplant over a parchment paper. I personally like using the black tray rather than the oven rack (see on the picture above). When using the black tray, the skin of the vegetables will get slightly burned on the surface (this is what we want) but the inside will be tender and scented with a wonderful smoky smell.

Cook the peppers and the eggplant for about 20 minutes. After this time, include the tomatoes and the onions on the tray. Use this chance to turn around the peppers and the eggplant. 

After another 15 minutes, turn the tomatoes and onions around. You may want to slightly turn the peppers and eggplant too, making sure that all sides are being equally cooked. 

Cook for 15 minutes more. At this point, the vegetables should look tender and their skin should be slightly burnt. If not, cook for some minutes more. Depending on the oven, the cooking time slightly vary, so keep an eye on your vegetables.

Turn off the oven, leave the door open, and let the vegetables sit between 30 and 60 minutes.  You will see that they deflate and poach (as shown in the picture above). The steam inside the vegetables will cook the flesh a little bit more, making it extra tender. Moreover, once they have completely cooled down, it''s easier to peel them and remove the seeds.

Peel the vegetables and remove the seeds from the peppers, Some people also like removing the seeds from the eggplant, but I like to keep the eggplant whole for esthetic reasons, and remove the seeds myself once served. 

Tips
You can perfectly adapt the number of vegetables to your requirements. This recipe served two side dishes.

Carrots and garlic can also be included. Make sure to add the garlic together with the tomatoes or even a little bit later. Otherwise, they will burn. 

Escalivada tastes better cold, but I wouldn't leave it in the fridge for more than a couple of days. 

When serving escalivada, add a  drizzle of olive oil and a little bit of salt over it to enhance its flavor. You can also finely chop a couple of garlic cloves and sprinkle them over the escalivada.

I strongly recommend preparing escalivada for those who are not fond of vegetables: believe me, you will love it. 




What do you think about this way of cooking vegetables? I personally love it. I prepare escalivada quite often not only because of its flavor, but also because it brings me wonderful memories of my childhood.

Let me know in the comments if you try escalivada, and how much you liked it!



2 comments:

  1. I actually can't believe I put off reading this recipe until now, because you were right, it sounds like something I'd love! I cannot wait to try this!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am actually! But I would totally make it as a main or with a side of rice.

    ReplyDelete

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