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Picada stewCatalan Cuisine

The traditional Spanish Picada is one of the most essential parts of Catalan Cuisine. After grinding herbs, oils, nuts or other ingredients with a wooden pestle inside of a thick yellow and green ceramic mortar, the picada’s mission is to perfectly accent the natural flavors of the fresh produce or seafood it is complementing. As one crushes and releases those aromatic flavors in the mortar, it reminds you of the basic beauty of fresh flavors from fresh products.

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Since the name of this dish comes from the Catalan word escalivar, meaning “to roast over ashes or embers,” it is traditional to cook this over a real flame. If you can’t though, you can bake the traditional Spanish Escalivada in the oven with good results as well.

Ingredients for traditional Spanish Escalivada

  • 4 small eggplants
  • 4 spring onions or large scallions
  • 4 red bell peppers
  • 3 tomatoes
  • Extra virgin olive oil or brushing, plus 1/3 cup
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • Salt and peper to taste
Method for traditional Spanish Escalivada

Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat the oven to 500ºF. Brush the eggplants, onions, bell peppers and tomatoes with olive oil. If using a grill, place the vegetables directly over the fire and grill, turning frequently, for 15 to 30 minutes, or until the skins blacken and the vegetables are tender. The variation in timing depends on the heat of the fire, and some vegetables, such as the tomatoes, may be ready before the others. If using an oven, arrange the vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet or in a roasting pan and roast, turning every 10 minutes, for 30 minutes, or until the skins blacken and the vegetables are tender. Remove the vegetables from the grill or oven, wrap in foil and let cool for about 1 hour.

Unwrap the vegetables. Peel the eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes, and peel away the outer layer of the onions. Split the bell peppers in half, discard the seeds and stems, and cut lengthwise into strips about 1 1/2 inches wide. Transfer to a bowl. Trim the stems from the eggplants and core the tomatoes, and then cut them into strips of the same size as the pepper strips and add to the bowl. Trim the onions, cut into rings, and add to the bowl along with the garlic.

Add the 1/3 cup olive oil, season with salt, and toss to mix well. Serve your delicious Spanish Escalivada at room temperature.

On a Cooking Class Day Tour in Barcelona, our clients frequently prepare this dish as a first course or as an accompaniment to a main course and it always goes down a treat! The day long tour includes a visit to the city’s most talked about marketplace, La Boqueria as well as tastings at all the top ´foodie´spots in the city.

Ingredients for traditional Spanish Fideua

  • 10 oz. fideos (or angel hair broken into 2″ pieces)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced