Coca d’escalivada (Vegetables and anchovies flatbread): the Catalan pizza
Hola a tothom!
As usual, following the origins of today’s recipe I do my greeting in Catalan. Perhaps you saw the Facebook post I wrote and are still wondering what is was, right? Then, let’s not wait any more and answer the question!
During our holidays in Barcelona we ate out a couple of times.For my partner, there was one meal that particularly stood out which was a vegetable and anchovies flatbread. This is known as Coca d’Escalivada and it’s one of the most singular Catalan dishes. The menus of bars and restaurants often display it as a starter and bakeries sell portions to be eaten on the go-as well as full-sized ones to bring at home. When I posted the Coca de trampo recipe in this blog I underlined the widespread importance of flatbreads in the Mediterranean regions of Spain. Having said that, you will spot little differences between both types.
About its history, it seems to have originated in the countryside, between Lleida and Tarragona. It is known in that area as Coca de Recapte because it was traditionally cooked with leftovers. In fact, the word recapte means recover within this context-hence the name. Now it is widespread all over the Catalan territory and every area add their own twists against the traditional vegetarian recipe. In the areas by the sea side, such Costa Brava, people add anchovies, while the Catalans from Vic or Manresa add botifarra. However, these tweaks are absolutely optional since the traditional recipe is vegetarian.
As usual, when I want to find inspiration for cooking traditional Catalan recipes my absolute reference is El Forner d’Alella. I followed his recipe from start to finish and enjoyed a delicious Friday night dinner. Pizza might be an Italian issue, but this Coca d’Escalivada is our pizza to show around the world.
INGREDIENTS (SERVES 6 SLICES)
Red peppers (2)
Anchovies (1 can, optional)
Black olives (a handful, optional)
For the dough:
Plain flour (250 g)
Water (100 ml)
Olive oil (50 ml)
Salt (1 teaspoon)
DIRECTIONS FOR COOKING
Grease and salt the peppers and the aubergine. You will need to make four incisions in the latter (one in each side) so he inside gets cooked quicker. Bake at 200 Celsius for 30 minutes-although you might have to remove the peppers before this time.
2. In the meantime, mix all the dough ingredients and knead until you achieve an elastic, non-sticky dough. It doesn’t need much time to come together. Once it’s done, shape it in a ball, cover with a kitchen cloth and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
3. Take the vegetables out of the oven when they are tender and wrinkled. Let them cool for a couple of minutes and cut thin strips. Then, set aside for later.
4. After the dough has rested, extend it on an oven tray covered with baking paper. You can do it with a rolling pin or even with your own hands (as I did). Either way, make sure you make a wide, thin base.
5. Place alternately the pepper and the aubergine strips across the dough. Add salt and olive oil in generous amounts and bake at 220 Celsius during 20 minutes. When the coca is half way through the cooking, add more olive oil because it will have dried.
6. Take the coca out of the oven when you see the base is golden brown. Let it cool for five minutes, add again some olive oil and decorate with the anchovies and the black olives as shown in the above pictures. Eat it either cold or lukewarm.