Escalivada Catalana, sometimes called escalibada, is a Catalan roasted vegetable dish. It features eggplant and red bell peppers, and sometimes onions and/or tomatoes. It's a light option for a Spanish tapas menu or can act as a simple vegetarian side.
I first discovered escalivada during a visit to Barcelona in the Catalonia region of Spain, where this is a very traditional dish. In its simplest form, think of it as colorful roasted vegetables with a Spanish-inspired dressing.
Making escalivada (or escalibada) is truly so easy and straightforward! The name comes from the Catalan verb escalivar, which means "to cook in ashes." This is a reference to the dish's traditional preparation in the embers of a wood fire.
While you can certainly cook the vegetables directly on glowing coals, you'll find this recipe which simply roasts the vegetables to be much easier and less messy, but just as colorful and delicious.
How to make it
Start out by lightly rubbing eggplants, red bell peppers, and onions with oil and roasting until tender. Peel the vegetables and remove the seeds. Then tear the eggplants and bell peppers into strips, and slice the onions.
To make the dressing for escalivada simply whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper. I use cava vinegar I purchased in Barcelona as the acidic element, but sherry vinegar works great as well.
Dress the vegetables, lightly tossing to coat, and then sprinkle the tops with chopped parsley. Refrigerate the prepared escalivada for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld and really develop.
How easy is that?! You've just made a super simple yet satisfying escalivada Catalana that is perfect for tapas night! Although it appears to be incredibly simple (and it is), the flavors are great.
Please scroll to the bottom of the post for the full recipe (in a printable recipe card) including ingredient amounts and detailed instructions.
To easily peel the roasted eggplants and peppers for your escalibada, first put them into a plastic bag and seal the bag. Then let them rest for about 10 minutes. This will loosen the skins. Once the skins are loose, carefully peel and then seeds the vegetables to proceed with the recipe.
Select firm eggplants and red peppers with smooth, unblemished skin for the best results. Avoid picking vegetables with bruises, imperfections, or those that feel soft to the touch.
To make these escalivada extra special, use Spanish extra-virgin olive oil for a truly authentic feel.
This is an excellent vegetable-forward side dish to accompany grilled, roasted, sautéed, or fried meats. It's also an ideal light tapas dish to round out a balanced tapas menu.
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Escalivada (Catalan Roasted Vegetables)
- 2 globe or Italian eggplants
- 2 red bell peppers
- 3 small onions unpeeled
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for coating vegetables
- 1 ½ tablespoons sherry vinegar or cava vinegar
- 1 clove garlic minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
- Lightly rub the eggplants, bell peppers, and onions with olive oil and set them the prepared baking sheet. Roast until the skin is blistered and blackened and flesh is tender when pierced with a knife, rotating the vegetables once or twice partway through cooking.
- Remove vegetables from the pan as they are done, the eggplants and peppers will roast for about 30 to 40 minutes, and the onions will likely take an additional 10 minutes or so depending on their size.
- Put the eggplants and red peppers into a plastic bag, seal and let them rest for about 10 minutes. This will loosen the skins. Carefully peel the skins off the vegetables and remove the stems. Gently scoop out the seeds from within the eggplant and peppers, and tear or cut the flesh into strips. Slice the peeled onions with a knife.
- Whisk together the 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper, and dress the vegetables, lightly tossing to help incorporate the flavors. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Arrange the vegetables in a serving dish and top with chopped parsley.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavors to develop. Serve cold or at room temperature, preferably with crusty bread.
- Select firm eggplants and red peppers with smooth, unblemished skin for the best results. Avoid picking vegetables with bruises, imperfections, or those that feel soft to the touch.
- To make these escalivada extra special, use Spanish extra-virgin olive oil for a truly authentic feel.
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*