During the ninth-century siege of Barcelona, Wilfred the Hairy, Count of Barcelona, lay dying. As a mark of respect, his comrade, King
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.
Arrange the vegetables in a large roasting tin with
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
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.
© 2007 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.