Escalivada, a Traditional Catalan Dish

Part of travel is the food experience, especially when you want to immerse yourself in a cultural food tasting. We try our best to try a local dish when we visit, a plant-based version of it. A recent local dish we tried is traditionally vegan and offered at our favorite local vegetarian restaurant, Quinoa Bar Vegetaria.

Escalivada, a traditional dish from the region of Catalonia consists of roasted eggplant and bell peppers with olive oil. Flavors from onion, tomato, garlic, and salt are sometimes added depending on who makes it. Derived from the verb escalivar in Catalan, it means to cook in ashes. Grilled and charred is the cooking method when cooked outside; however, inside, charring the eggplant on a gas burner and having the other vegetables broiled is how it’s prepared.

Served as tapas or as a relish for grilled meats is the popular way locals enjoy it. Some add it to salad or top on coca bread, Catalan flatbread, either as “pizza” or as bocadillo, a sandwich. I ordered Quinoa Bar’s twist on the escalivada, the Escalivada Bocadillo: red peppers and tomatoes with olive tapenade, olive oil, avocado, greens, and black pepper all served on coca bread.

The bell pepper stood out to me most and combined with the rest of the ingredients was so delicious. We both enjoyed the flavor and simplicity of it. But it was too much oil for us, so much so it dripped oil and turned the bottom of the bread soggy. I think the olive tapenade already had plenty of oil, so the addition of the doused olive oil was not necessary. Apparently, this is how it’s enjoyed, though. In spite of this, I really enjoyed the sandwich and would recommend it to anyone for a sample of local flavors.

Those who has visited Spain, have you tried escalivada? If so, how did you have it?

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4 thoughts on “Escalivada, a Traditional Catalan Dish

  1. Angie, this looks wonderful. I love grilled eggplant and peppers. We’re going to Spain (Madrid and the north) in a few weeks, and I’ll keep an eye out for it. In Bulgaria they take these same ingredients and process them into a delicious spread. It’s called ajvar (eye-var) and it’s yummy. ~James

    • I can see that being tasty as well. I’ll keep that in mind if we head to Bulgaria in the future. Enjoy Spain! We’re hoping to head over to Madrid at some point soon as well.

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