CATALAN ESCALIVADA (roasted eggplant, onions and peppers, for six)
“A classic dish of Catalonia, in southeastern Spain, escalivada takes its name from the Spanish for ‘grilled’, although the dish is often roasted, as in this version.” The Williams Sonoma Cookbook
1 globe eggplant or 2 Asian eggplants, trimmed
3 bell peppers, preferably 1 each red, yellow and green
2 heads garlic
4 zucchini or 2 zucchini and 2 yellow crookneck squashes
1 fennel bulb
2 red onions, quartered through the stem ends
3 or 4 tomatoes, halved crosswise
sugar for sprinkling
salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
dash of sherry vinegar or red or white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
coarse country bread for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 400*.
2. Cut the globe eggplant into 8 equal pieces or each Asian eggplant into 4 equal pieces. Quarter the bell peppers lengthwise and seed them. Combine the eggplant and bell pepper pieces in a roasting pan. Break the garlic heads into cloves. Reserve 2 cloves and add the others, unpeeled, to the pan with the vegetables. Trim the zucchini and cut each into 2 or 3 pieces. Cut off the stems and feathery tops and any bruised outer stalks from the fennel bulb and quarter the bulb lengthwise. Add the zucchini, fennel, onions and tomatoes to the pan. Sprinkle with sugar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle with oil and vinegar. Mix all the ingredients together well.
3. Roast the vegetables, turning them once or even twice if they threaten to burn or cook unevenly, until tender, about 40 minutes. Avoid turning them too often, or they will collapse and become too saucy. You want them to keep their shape and character.
4. When the vegetables are tender, remove them from the oven and transfer to a bowl. Peel and finely chop the reserved garlic cloves and sprinkle over the vegetables along with the parsley and rosemary. (To avoid breaking down the vegetables, do not stir the mixture at this point). Serve hot or at room temperature, making sure that each guest receives some of each vegetable. The whole roasted garlic cloves may be squeezed and spread onto pieces of bread by each guest.