Escalavida (Spanish-roasted vegetables)

The Margaret Fulton Cookbook

The Margaret Fulton cookbook, 314pp.
by Margaret Fulton
Hardie Grant Books, Victoria, 2004
Cooking on page 132

Margaret Fulton is the matriarch of Australia cooking, and was the first to start producing cookbooks here.

She and her initial book, published in 1968, are credited with changing the way Australians cooked, ate and entertained. In fact in 2009, a Sydney Morning Herald panel named her as one of the 25 Australians who had most changed the nation.

From the beginning, her recipes were easy-to-follow and varied, and she urged homemakers to cook beyond a meal of ‘meat and three veg’.

This book—a revised edition of her original cookbook—was put together by her daughter, Suzanne, and two granddaughters, Kate and Louise.

Page 32 is a chapter divider for eggs and cheese, so I moved on to page 132. Yummo!

Escalavida (Spanish-roasted vegetables)

Escalavida (Spanish-roasted vegetables)

500 g medium or baby eggplants
1 bunch salad onions, peeled and trimmed
2 red onions, peeled and quartered
2 red capsicum, halved and seeded
3 large cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
chopped parsley and pitted halved black olives, to garnish

In a baking dish, roast the vegetables and garlic with half the olive oil in a 180°C oven, until very soft. Cover tightly with a lid or foil and leave for 10 minutes or so to cool slightly. Uncover and skin the capsicum and eggplant, if liked, and cut into long strips. If the eggplants are baby ones, you may prefer to leave them unpeeled and whole or halved. Leave the onions whole.

While still warm, dress with the remaining olive oil and season with the salt. Turn into a serving dish and scatter with parsley and olives.

Escalavida (Spanish-roasted vegetables)

Escalavida—ready to go into the oven

Serves 4–6.

How it played out
Thanks to a Sunday afternoon blitz at the markets—when fresh produce goes for about half price—I had all the makings for this.

I tossed everything together in a large baking dish and then added one BIG extra—about 20 anchovies. Heck, the recipe says Spanish, so I reckon that means anchovies—and lots of them.

I didn’t bother adding the last 1/4 cup of oil, because there was enough oil clinging to the anchovies. Nor did I bother peeling the eggplant and capsicum. Why waste all that goodness?

Escalavida (Spanish-roasted vegetables)

Escalavida cooking in the wood stove

Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow! This is a fabulous dish and so quick to make. We have it several times a week—even with baked silverside of beef—and are rapidly polishing off a large jar of anchovies.

I’ve varied the veggies, depending on what’s on hand and what needs to be used up. Fennel works well and so does zucchini.

If you have enjoyed reading this, please take a moment to check out my travel blog.


About leggypeggy

Intrepid overland traveller, keen photographer, avid cook—known to jump out of airplanes and do other silly things. Do not act my age.
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17 Responses to Escalavida (Spanish-roasted vegetables)

  1. Rhonda says:

    That would have been a challenge to make in 1968! That recipe must have been edited in the new edition, I think. The only places you could get olive oil up until the late 1970’s were delicatessens and chemists. And the only eggplants were huge ones that were very bitter and had to be well salted before cooking. The recipe sounds yummy, though – especially with the anchovies.

    • leggypeggy says:

      Wow, Rhonda, thanks for the insight. It never occurred to me how unlikely this recipe would have been in Australia in 1968. I took myself off to the library today to see if I could find Margaret Fulton’s original cookbook, but no luck. But I’ll track it down eventually and let you know if there was anything similar in that edition. I’ve been in Australia for 30-plus years and I have certainly seen a huge expansion in the availability of ‘exotic’ foods. We are very blessed with choice these days.
      P.S. And I’m glad you like anchovies too. 🙂

  2. I made this tonight Peggy and like you, varied the vegetables. I made it mostly as written, but added in a zuc and 4 large, quartered tomatoes. I also chucked in half a jar of anchovies and would do that again-it really added to the dish. I know I basically made a ratatouille, but the chunkier veg, anchovies, olives and the huge handful of parsley took it to Spain!

  3. I have this book. Amazingly, after all these entries something so well known to me is on What’s Cookin. But alas with my oven, i’d have to cook the veg for three hours for them to be soft. Looks so delicious.

  4. lmo58 says:

    Hi Peggy,
    I made this last night and it was so yummy that I can see myself being happy to have this every day. I used red capsicums, red onion, zucchini, eggplant, fennel and anchovies. I finished it off by crumbling goat’s cheese over the top. I could have done with more anchovies and would have liked the olives. The flexibility in the veggies you use makes it even more attractive. This dish is so easy that I would encourage people who think they can’t cook to make this. For those of you who don’t know Peggy, and aren’t familiar with this blog and her travel blog, sign up to both and try some of her recipes. Her cooking is star-chef quality and she’s a wonderful writer. You’ll be so glad you did.

    • leggypeggy says:

      My goodness Louise, thanks so much for your kind words. I’d better add a link to to the travel blog. Delighted that you liked the roasted vegetables. Wish I could claim all the recipes are mine, but they come from all the wonderful cookbooks in my huge collection.

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  9. Vicki says:

    Yummmmmy! I love anchovies. I think it’s the saltiness more than anything.
    I can well imagine how delicious this recipe would be as I used to cook almost the same thing every single week, except I added lemons cut into wedges (to roast).

    My parents (i.e. my Mother mainly) grew all our own vegetables. Around the late 1960s/70s our family ate capsicums, eggplant, mushrooms and lots of other vegetables which were unheard of except in Greek & Italian households. We rarely had meat and 3 veg (except for a Sunday roast), despite my Mother being brought up on a traditional dairy farm in northern Tasmania.

    A 71 yr old friend of mine still eats chops and 3 veggies to this day.

    I remember my Mother making pumpkin and corn quiche with the pastry made of wholemeal flour, herbs and olive oil for example. I don’t remember her making the traditional English quiche of bacon, cheese and cream. And when the Vietnamese community arrived in Melbourne, from then on, we had mostly stir fried food which my Mother continued almost up to her death at the age of 88.

    My Mother was a great cook and amazing in the variety of vegetables she used. I think it was the variety she grew in the garden, as we certainly didn’t have any European friends who might have influenced her cooking.

    • leggypeggy says:

      Vicki, you were so lucky having your mum running the kitchen in your childhood. What an amazing woman she must have been. I wonder what inspired her to use such variety—besides being able to grow it? Maybe she just had an adventurous and experimental tendency.

      While my family didn’t grow their own veggies, my mum usually bought from the farm gate, so it was close. We at a lot of variety too, but she couldn’t stand eggplant so I never had it until later in life. Now I love it.

      Love those anchovies too.

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