Spanish fire roasted peppers
Char grilled vegetables are a firm favourite in Andalucia during the summer months, translated as escalivada this side dish is served cold usually with meat such as barbequed chicken or pork. We first learned about this recipe whilst enjoying a barbeque with our Spanish neighbours, the vegetables were prepared the day before and left in the kitchen to cool overnight ready for peeling the next day.
Spanish char drilled vegetables are very easy to make although you have to allow a couple of hours for the vegetables to cool, if you are planning a relaxing summers weekend cooking outdoors then this delicious recipe is perfect and packs a real Mediterranean flavour punch.
The ingredients for escalivada are simple onions, tomatoes and red bell peppers, this recipe is also a great way of using up those peppers and tomatoes that are looking a bit tired in the back of the fridge. The golden rule is a layer of hot coals on the barbeque (wood fired barbeques are best for the smokey flavour), once the barbeque is generating some serious heat add the onions to the grill, the onions always go on first as they take the longest to cook, peppers and tomatoes follow when the onions become soft. Barbequing the vegetables is simple, they just need to be turned every five minutes or so, peppers should turn jet black and the tomatoes soften until the skins begin to fall away. Cooking medium sized onions will take around half and hour with the peppers and tomatoes being ready in less than 10 minutes.
When the vegetables are done remove them from the barbeque and wrap them in good old fashioned newspaper an Andalucian trick that makes them easier to peel. Leave wrapped up for a couple of hours or until cool enough to handle. Now for the messy part peel the vegetables by hand, they do not have to be completely clean, in fact some burnt pepper skin adds to the whole flavour. Once peeled it is then a simple process of chopping the veg into strips and pieces, scissors work well for this. Once fully cooled mix together in a bowl and place in the fridge.
For serving your Spanish escalivada the vegetables need a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some fresh bread kept handy for mopping up the juices. Escalivada is a great side dish and very aromatic whilst cooking over the hot coals, it may take a few hours to make but the recipe is simple and most definitely worth the wait! You can of course make this recipe using only red peppers, fire roasted peppers have a sweetness that will compliment a whole range of barbequed meats as well as being a tasty ingredient for salads. Roasted peppers also go well with sliced Spanish ham or other cured meats such as lomo pork tenderloin balancing the light salty flavour with a sweet hint of barbequed pepper, add a spicy olive oil for delicious Spanish tapas. Escalivada will keep refrigerated for up to three days but by far the best way to enjoy is to eat within 24 hours and serve with your chosen meats. Happy barbequing!