"The kitchens of holiday houses (...) usually have a stony bleakness in common. However adequate the beds or satisfactory the view, the kitchen equipment will probably consist of a tin frying pan, a chipped enamel saucepan, one Pyrex casserole without a lid, and a rusty knife with a loose handle."
Elisabeth David, people. Marvel at this. She knew, to the letter, what would be the contents of the cupboard in our little cottage in Saaremaa, Estonia, in the summer of 2007. Pretty impressive. I love finding proof that some things never change.
Not that one really wants to cook in summer. At most, one will grill a few burgers, or make a batch of pancakes for a long lazy breakfast. The rest will go in sandwiches and ice cream, and happily so.
But when that´s not enough, here´s a summer staple that can be done in even the most basic rented kitchen, provided there´s an oven.
Escalibada is a salad of roasted peppers and aubergines, dressed with olive oil and vinegar, and chopped raw garlic. Some recipes also have tomatoes roasted alongside, and even the garlic and some onion, too. (I prefer this. Raw garlic and onion are sociopathic, in my opinion).
Here´s the recipe, with a suggested holiday timeline.
Start with 3 red peppers (bear in mind that in Spain peppers are very big, the size of an outstretched hand) 3 aubergines, 1 quartered onion, three whole garlic cloves.
In the morning, put everything in a 180ºC oven, unpeeled, whole, easy, while you prepare coffee. The vegetables will roast while you have breakfast and read the papers.
After 45 minutes or so, take them out, put them in a bowl, cover it with clingfilm, go and get dressed.
When you come back, they´ll have sweated a little and become cool enough to handle. Peel peppers and aubergines, deseed the peppers, and make your dressing. I like to squeeze out the garlic and make it into a paste that makes the basis of my vinaigrette.
If it´s not too hot, put it in the fridge, and go to the beach.
When you come back, you´ll have a beautiful, punchy salad. If you´ve picked up some fresh fish in the market on your way back, then of course you´re in business for grilled fish with escalibada, which is one of the best things possible. If not, it will still be great with tuna from a can, boiled eggs, a cheese sandwich, or even some pizza.
It lasts quite well for a few days, too, so you can make it as an investment or a just-in-case dish.
(And yes, I know, this is a very Mediterranean dish, and no, I didn´t make it in Estonia. I stuck to local cucumbers and apples and berries and mushrooms, no great hardship.)