Escalivada is a roasted vegetable salad consisting of red pepper, eggplant, onion, tomato and garlic as an option. It is usually seasoned with olive oil and salt, although a vinaigrette is also great.
It is a typical dish of Catalonia, Valencia, Murcia and Aragon of peasant origin. Its name comes from the word escalivar which means “to roast on embers”.
Despite the incredible scent embers impart to food, it´s not possible for most of us to grill vegetables this way at home. Even though we’d love to. Therefore the cooking is usually carried out in two ways:
- Roasting the vegetables on the kitchen stove
- Or in the oven
The problem with grilling vegetables on the stove is that many don’t have an open gas fire at home and, instead, have only ceramic hobs. We must also bear in mind that this method makes the kitchen very dirty.
On the other hand, roasting them in the oven is much more comfortable and clean. However, not all the ingredients that we will roast need the same cooking time. That’s why we’ll have to put them in the oven at different stages.
Escalivada can be served as a salad to accompany meats, fish or be eaten on its own. It is also commonly served on toasts topped with anchovies.
- 3 red bell peppers
- 2 large eggplants
- 2 sweet onions
- 3 red tomatoes
- 1 garlic head
- Olive oil
- Flaky salt to taste
- Anchovies (optional)
- Preheat oven to 355ºF (180ºC).
- Wash the peppers, eggplant and tomatoes. Dry them.
- Place the red bell peppers, eggplants, onions and garlic on a baking tray lined with aluminium foil.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the peppers and eggplant are tender enough and the skin has charred. Do not forget to turn them around when half baked to roast the other side.
- When there are 15 minutes left of baking, add the tomatoes to the rest of the vegetables.
- Take the tray out of the oven and transfer the peppers and eggplant to a cristal bowl and cover with film. Let cool overnight.
- Skin the peppers. Remove the stems and seeds out, peel and shred them into strips.
- Peel the eggplants, cut off the top stem and shred them into strips.
- Cut the onions and tomatoes into quarters.
- Peel the garlic cloves and keep them whole.
- Place the vegetables on a serving dish and serve with olive oil and flaky salt.
Tips for a great escalivada:
- You can drizzle the vegetables with olive oil before baking if you wish. This time we preferred to bake them without it.
- It is best to roast the vegetables the night before the preparation. This way they can cool to room temperature overnight and be more easily handled the day after.
- To remove the skin from the vegetables easily put the vegetables in a bag, as recommended in this post, or leave them inside a glass bowl covered with film.
- Its taste is much more pleasant to the palate if served at room temperature.
- You can also accompany the escalivada with a boiled egg, tuna, white tuna belly, olives…
- If you decide to add garlic, it’s better to roast it. That way the final taste will be much milder.
- In Catalonia it is customary to make toast with Payés bread, but any variety of bread is welcome.
- If you have a leftover amount of escalivada, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Escalivada can remind us very closely of Esgarraet, made with peppers, garlic and cod, or even Espencat, which is a escalivada with cod added.
In any case and in all its variants, it is a light, simple dish that you should not miss. Enjoy your meal!