Escalivada

Chargrilled Leek and Pepper Salad with Romesco Sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Media Racion

    6

Appears in

MoVida

By Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish

Published 2007

  • About

During the ninth-century siege of Barcelona, Wilfred the Hairy, Count of Barcelona, lay dying. As a mark of respect, his comrade, King Charles the Bald of Aragon, ran his hand across Wilfred’s wound and dragged his blood-drenched fingers across Wilfred’s golden shield. From that moment, this image became the flag of the Kingdom of Aragon and later that of the Province of Catalán. Or so the story goes …

Escalivada, a purely vegetarian dish, celebrates this bloody myth with long red strips of roasted capsicum and golden pieces of roasted leek and eggplant. Escalivada means ‘charred’ and it is traditionally cooked in a wood-fired oven. Dressed with the rich garlicky cooking juices, it is served at room temperature. James, my sous chef, maintains that this is his favourite dish. He espouses the reward in laying out the vegetables and takes pride in sending out such a beautiful, but simple, dish.

Ingredients

  • 3 leeks, trimmed, washed and halved lengthways
  • 2 large eggplant (aubergine), about 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) each
  • 3 red capsicums (peppers)
  • 2 garlic bulbs
  • olive oil, to drizzle
  • fine sea salt, to sprinkle
  • sea salt flakes, to sprinkle
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 200 ml (7 fl oz) salsa romesco

Method

Preheat the oven to 250°C (500°F/Gas 9).

Arrange the vegetables in a large roasting tin with a little space around them, putting the garlic bulbs in the centre of the tin. (If all the vegetables don’t fit into one you may like to make up two tins and cook them separately.) Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil, sprinkle with the fine sea salt and cook for 35 minutes, turning every 15 minutes or so, until the skins are blackened and the vegetables are very tender. The idea is to get as much colour and smoky flavour without burning the flesh.

Once cooked, remove the tin from the oven and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside until the vegetables are cool enough to handle.

Remove the outer layers of the leek and discard. Cut the rest of the leek, lengthways, into 1 cm (½ inch) strips. Carefully remove and discard the skin of the eggplant. Strip off the flesh into 1 cm (½ inch) wide strips following the length of the eggplant. Cut the end off each garlic bulb, about 1 cm (½ inch) from the point then carefully squeeze out the garlic — try to keep the clove shape. Peel and discard the skin from the capsicums. Remove and discard the stalk, seeds and membrane and cut the flesh into 1 cm (½ inch) wide strips. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the cooking juices from the tin.

Place the vegetables in neat alternating strips on a serving plate. Place the garlic on the side of the dish. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes. Make a dressing by mixing the extra virgin olive oil with the reserved cooking juices and pour over the vegetables. Finally, top with small mounds of romesco sauce.