What’s To Eat: Escalavida
Formaggio Kitchen held a DIY Charcuterie class with Jamie Bissonnette, the Chef at both the Toro and Coppa restaurants in Boston. He demonstrated five different recipes, but the stand-out for me was the Smoked Eggplant Escalavida. I’ve made it several times since the demonstration.
This is really easy to make, is relatively healthy, and tastes great, hot or cold. Even if you don’t have a smoker, you can still make and enjoy a smokey flavor by using Liquid Smoke. Here’s the recipe, but I admit that when I make it, I do this mostly from memory and therefore tend to leave out a few things. However, it’s quite a forgiving recipe. To me, the real genius of Bissonnette’s recipe is the puree step. This gives a great combination of textures and really emphasizes the sweetness of the red peppers.
- 2 Lbs Chinese eggplant (the long thing kind, but I use any purple eggplant)
- 1/4 Lb Red onions, peeled and cut into 1/4’s
- 1/4 Plum tomatoes, cut in 1/4’s
- 1 each Red bell pepper, grilled and roasted
- 10 Garlic cloves
- Olive oil
- 2 Tbsp Honey
- 1 Tsp Soy Sauce
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Tabasco to taste
- Liquid Smoke if you do not have a smoker for the eggplant
Heat the oven to 350F. Put the whole garlic cloves into an oven proof ramekin and pour enough olive oil in to cover up the cloves 1/2 to 3/4 of the way. Put it in the oven until the oil is bubbly and the cloves are just slightly brown. Remove it and set it aside in the oil.
While the garlic is in the oven, cut the eggplant lengthwise into quarters. Brush olive oil on it. If you have a smoker, smoke the eggplant. If not, put it on a baking sheet to roast it along with the other vegetables. Season the red onion quarters with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Do the same with one of the red peppers (the one that will be roasted) and the tomato quarters. Put the red pepper, red onion quarters, and tomatoes on the baking sheet with the eggplant and into the oven. Remove the eggplant when you can put a knife into the meat of it and there’s no resistance. Same for the onions, red pepper, and tomatoes.
Turn on the broiler or grill and grill the second red pepper. Get the skin really charred because it will peel off more easily. When it is really black, remove from the broiler/grill, put it in a covered bowl or container and let it sweat and cool. When it’s cool enough to handle, peel the blackened part off.
Remove and discard the skin of the eggplant. Shred the rest with your fingers into a bowl. If you like smaller sized pieces of red onion, cut the quarters into thinner strips. Cut the red peppers into strips of 1/4” by 1”. Put them in the bowl with the eggplant and red onions. Ditto for the tomato.
Take 1/3 of the mixture and put it in the blender or in a container suitable for a stick blender. Add the garlic, honey, sherry vinegar, soy sauce, Tabasco, and Liquid Smoke. Puree it (add some of the leftover garlic oil if you need to) and combine it back into the vegetables. You can store it in the refrigerator.