Catalan Samfaina on Garlic Toast

Back in June, Aunt Kris and I took a cooking class, and this was one of the dishes we made that I have been meaning to share. It is SO DARN DELICIOUS and excellent if you have eggplant to use! It is known as a Catalan Ratatouille and is perfect for a warm summer night for dinner or as an appetizer. Even David likes this recipe and he is the pickiest eater I know.

Samfaina is an exuberant vegetable mixture widely used in Catalan cuisine as a sauce or base for meat, fish and fowl dishes. It’s a succulent vegetarian dish that you can eat as a first course or side dish too. Traditionally, the Catalan ratatouille recipe includes onion, peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes. And as usual, there seems to be as many variations as households.

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Sweet and Sour Samfaina:

1 large eggplant, cubed
4 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
½ cup celery, chopped
2 bell peppers, cut into 1/4–inch squares
2 garlic cloves, chopped
½ cup orange juice
3 tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch squares
1/3 cup olives, pitted and chopped
3 tbsp capers, chopped
¼ cup red wine vinegar
3 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp sugar
Salt and pepper
¼ cup parsley leaves, chopped

Place eggplant in a colander and layer with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes. In the meantime, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a deep skillet. Add onion and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add celery, peppers and garlic and sauté for an additional 3 minutes. Add orange juice and cook uncovered for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, olives, capers, vinegar, and raisins and stir. Add sugar and stir. Cover the pan and let it simmer for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Pour mixture into a bowl, add parsley and set aside. The eggplant should now be ready. Rinse it thoroughly with water and pat dry with paper towels. Heat the last 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan and add eggplant. Saute for about 5 minutes until tender. Add the eggplant to the rest of the vegetables and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 12 hours. For this purpose, the samfaina should be served at room temperature.

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Toast:

White country bread
2 garlic cloves, skin removed
Extra virgin olive oil
1 recipe of Samfaina (above)
Slices of Serrano ham (optional)
Manchego cheese (optional)

Prepare a grill or broiler. Slice bread and brush each side with olive oil. Grill on both sides until toasted. Gently rub each side with the garlic clove. Top with a generous amount of samfaina and a slice of Serrano or Manchego.

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