Summer beckons in the form of a grilled vegetable and bread salad. Hailing from Spain, escalivada is the quintessential summer meal. At the height of summer, eggplant, peppers, squash, tomato, and figs gather under a drizzle of anchoïade—a savory dressing classically prepared with anchovies, olive oil, and garlic but here amended with coriander, toasted walnuts, fresh thyme, and dried figs. The combination is a near perfect culmination of salty, sweet, crunchy, juicy, and herbaceous. This is summer on a plate.
- 2 fat cloves of garlic
- 7 oil-packed anchovy fillets
- ½ cup walnuts toasted
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds toasted in a dry skillet until fragrant
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tablespoon fresh thyme chopped
- ½ cup dried mission figs chopped
- Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- 1 large eggplant sliced lengthwise ¼-inch thick
- 3–5 sweet peppers depending on size and variety, halved and seeded
- 3 summer squash like zucchini, crook-neck, or patty pan, sliced lengthwise ¼-inch thick
- 2 red onions sliced in half and then into ¼-inch chunks
- ⅓–½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
- 6 slices whole grain sourdough bread
- 2 ripe tomatoes
- 2–3 cups mixed parsley basil, mint, and scallions
- 8 fresh figs quartered (optional but highly recommended)
Pound the garlic and anchovies into a paste in a mortar and pestle. Add walnuts and coriander seeds, pounding to incorporate. You want this to stay somewhat chunky, so be conservative with your pestle. Transfer the paste into a bowl and mix in the lemon zest, juice, olive oil, thyme, dried figs, and black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. You may want more lemon juice, black pepper, coriander, or even salt.
In addition to dressing your escalivada, anchoïade can be used on top of grilled fish, meat, or vegetables, spread on bread like a tapenade, or used as a dip with raw or roasted vegetables.
Light the flame on your backyard grill to medium-high. Drizzle or brush the sliced eggplant, peppers, squash, and onions with olive oil.
Place on the grates of the grill and cook on both sides until charred grill marks appear, their scent becomes smoky, and flesh begins to soften. Season with sea salt after grilling and cool slightly. Drizzle the bread slices with olive oil and grill to toast on each side.
Tear or cut the eggplant, squash, and bread into chunky bite-sized pieces. Arrange all the vegetables, bread, fresh figs, and herbs onto a wide plate or shallow bowl for serving. Spoon the anchoïade evenly over the top and enjoy outside in the summer sunshine