Here’s a modern version of an old Catalan classic. The vegetables were originally cooked in wood ashes, but it’s much easier for modern party-makers to follow the lead of modern Catalan restaurateurs and cook them in the oven! This recipe also accommodates the new-fangled impulse of turning the vegetables into a kind of purée; in this version, you get whole ones and chopped-up ones—a nice contrast, and a textural treat. Serve near lots of good bread.
- 2 medium eggplants (about ¾ pound each)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 green bell pepper, halved
- 4 red bell peppers, halved
- 2 large onions, cut into eighths, root end attached
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons chopped curly parsley
1. Heat the oven to 500°F.
2. Puncture the eggplants in a few spots with a toothpick. Rub the eggplants with a bit of olive oil and place on a sheet pan. Place the peppers and the onions, cut side down, on another sheet pan. Roast all the vegetables for 10 minutes. Turn the vegetables over and roast another 10 minutes, or until the eggplants are tender, but not completely collapsed. Remove the vegetables from the oven, cover the pans with foil, and allow the vegetables to steam until cool enough to handle.
3. Lower the oven temperature to 375°F.
4. Using a paring knife and your fingers, peel and seed the peppers, but do not rinse them. Cut 6 of the red pepper halves lengthwise in half again (giving you 12 large quarters) and place in a mixing bowl. Remove 24 of the largest leaves of onion, discarding the dry, outermost onion leaves, and add to the bowl of large red pepper pieces.
5. Coarsely chop the remaining onion and place in an ovenproof baking dish. Cut the 2 remaining red pepper halves and the green pepper halves into ¼×½-inch pieces and place them in the baking dish with the onions. Split the eggplants lengthwise and, using the side of a knife, scrape the flesh free from the skins. Discard the skins. Coarsely chop the flesh and add it to the baking dish.
6. Whisk the salt, black pepper, lemon juice, and garlic in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the 7 tablespoons olive oil to make a dressing. Add all but 2 tablespoons of the dressing plus 1 tablespoon of the parsley to the baking dish, tossing well to combine with the chopped vegetables. Place the bakeing dish in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove, and let the vegetable mixture come to room temperature.
7. When ready to serve, mound the vegetable mixture at the center of a serving plate. Toss the large red pepper and onion pieces in the mixing bowl with the remaining 2 tablespoons of dressing, and alternately arrange them in a spoked pattern around the mound. Scatter the remaining 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley over all.
Nutritional information includes 1 teaspoon of olive oil rubbed on the eggplant.