Smoky Catalan-Style Roasted Vegetables (Escalivada)

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  6 servings
Prep Time:  25 minutes Cook Time:  30 minutes

Smoky Catalan-Style Roasted Vegetables (Escalivada)

Bring the taste of Spain to your table with this traditional smoky vegetable dish. It was originally prepared in the embers of fire, but if you have a stovetop smoker or a smoker on your outdoor grill, this is the recipe for you. It’s so flavorful that you won’t believe it. Allow 30 minutes for the eggplant to drain.

Ingredients

2 bay leaves

2 large or extra-large eggplants, peeled and cut into ¼-inch rounds

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 large red bell peppers, cut in quarters, stem, seeds and ribs removed

2 shallots, cut in half, skin on

1 small onion, cut in quarters, skin on

3 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half, any green centers removed

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with  nonstick vegetable oil spray.
  2. Set up a tabletop smoker according to the manufacturer’s instructions and add cherry, oak, or hickory chips and the bay leaves.
  3. Set a cooling rack over a sheet pan. Arrange the eggplant on the rack in a single layer and sprinkle with the 2 tablespoons of the salt. Set aside and allow to drain for 30 minutes (see Kitchen Tip.) Wash the eggplant well and pat dry.
  4. When the eggplants have drained, line a small tray or the smoker’s food tray with foil and spray with nonstick vegetable oil spray. Place the drained eggplant slices on the tray in a single layer and place in the smoker. Cover and smoke for 8 to 9 minutes. With tongs, turn the eggplant over in the smoker tray, cover, and continue to smoke for another 2 minutes. Transfer the eggplant slices to the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Arrange the the peppers, shallots, onion, and garlic on the foil-lined tray, cover, smoke for 8 to 9 minutes, turn with tongs and smoke for about 2 minutes longer.
  6. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the oil over the eggplant and toss to coat. Cover with foil and place in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. Remove the peppers from the smoker, add to the eggplant, and toss gently to combine and coat with the oil.
  8. Rotate the shallots and onions to the bottom of the smoker, with cut sides down, cover, and smoke for for 2 more minutes. Transfer to a work surface. Remove the skin of the onion and shallots and slice into ½ inch wide strips. Add to the eggplant and peppers in the oven, sprinkle with the remaining salt, toss gently to coat, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the smoker from the heat.
  9. When the vegetables are done, transfer them to a serving plate. Drizzle with the remaining oil and the vinegar,  sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss gently. This dish can be served hot, at room temperature or chilled, on toasted baguette slices, over potatoes, and it’s revolutionary in a frittata. It will keep, covered, in the refrigerator, for 3 days.

Kitchen Tips

  • Eggplant can be bitter, so many cooks take preliminary steps to reduce the bitterness. One way is the soak it in milk (if you are not vegan and are making this as a dairy meal). Another way is to salt the eggplant first. Salting is done to draw the liquid out of many vegetables (think cucumbers in cucumber salad) and with eggplant, it has it added benefit of drawing out the bitter flavor compounds along with the vegetable’s natural liquids. It also renders the eggplant less likely to soak up too much oil. Peel and cut the eggplant, salt liberally and let stand on a rack set over a baking sheet or in a colander set over a bowl for about 30 minutes. At that time, you will see beads of “sweat” on eggplant. Rinse very well under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels, pressing gently to remove as much water as possible. Continue with your recipe.

 

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