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Escalivada (Grilled Mixed Vegetable Salad)
(recipe, José Pizarro)
Escalivada is a Catalan grilled salad, but actually there are lots of variations from all over Spain. It's ideal to make at a barbecue — the charcoal adds a lovely smokiness to the grilled vegetables. You could roast the vegetables in the oven, but the flavor won't be the same.
Purists never put vinegar in this salad, but I like to marinate the cooked vegetables to brighten and develop the flavors. In Catalonia they eat the warm salad immediately.
- 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 eggplants
- 4 red bell peppers
- 3 red onions
- 1 head of garlic, plus 3 cloves for the eggplants
- 3 ripe tomatoes
- 1 bunch scallions
- 1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- First of all, check the heat of the charcoal — if you can keep your hand over the coals for a count of six, then the temperature is right. You want a lower heat than when grilling meat.
- Use 1 tablespoon of the oil to coat the eggplant, peppers, onions, and garlic head, and place them whole on the grill. When I am doing this on the grill, I make a slit in each eggplant lengthwise and then peel 3 cloves of garlic and put one inside each eggplant before grilling them. Once cooked, the eggplants have a wonderful subtle garlic flavor.
- Turn the vegetables every 5 minutes or so, until they are properly cooked — you want them black on the outside and soft in the middle. This will take a good 30 minutes. Add the tomatoes and scallions about 10 minutes before you think the other vegetables will be ready.
- Place all the vegetables into a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let them sweat about 10 minutes. Don't leave them until they are cold; they should be just cool enough to handle.
- Take a bowl of water with which to wash your hands. Peel the onions and cut them into wedges. Next, remove and discard the garlic from the eggplants, then peel off the skin — you can use your fingers, hence the bowl of water. Now do the tomatoes, leaving the peppers until last because they need longer sweating to remove the skins. Don't throw away the juices created from this peeling — use as part of the salad. Coarsely chop the eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers.
- Now squeeze the garlic flesh out of the skins, and mash it to a purée in a small bowl. Whisk in the vinegar, followed by the rest of the oil, to make an emulsion. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Stir the garlic dressing into the vegetables, and either eat immediately or let marinate a couple of hours.