As winter inevitably approaches, it is also the time for salads and gazpacho to be replaced by hearty, warming dishes. Samfaina is a popular vegetable sauce, which may be served with chicken or pork, but in Catalunya most commonly accompanies bacallà (cod). As it is made leaving the vegetables quite chunky, similar to French ratatouille, samfaina can also be eaten alone or with cous-cous or crackers for a vegetarian option.
- 100g/4oz smoked bacon or gammon (optional)
- 250g/8oz aubergine, without stalks
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 red peppers, seeded and cut into squares
- 175ml/6 fl oz dry white wine
- 1 bay leaf
- either 750g/1lb 6oz ripe tomatoes, without their skins or seeds or 600g/1 lb 4 oz canned tomatoes with their juice
- 1 large courgette, cubed with the skin left on
- 125ml/4 fl oz olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cube the aubergine, sprinkle with salt and leave for about 30 minutes. Start the samfaina by heating two tablespoons of olive oil in a casserole pan. Fry the onion and bacon/gammon (if using) over a medium heat until the onion colours, then add the garlic. Add the tomato, peppers, wine and bay leaf and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the tomato has disintegrated into the sauce.
Rinse the salt off the aubergines and pat dry with kitchen paper. In a different pan, heat some oil and fry the aubergine and courgette cubes gently, turning them occasionally. When they are golden brown add them to the tomato sauce and simmer for about 15 minutes. Check seasoning.
If serving with bacallà then soak 500g/1lb of cod overnight (and longer if possible) in water, changing the water two to three times. The fish should not taste salty afterwards. When ready to use, coat the fish in flour, heat 4-5 tablespoons of oil and fry the fish pieces on both sides until well coloured and golden. Then remove from the pan and add to the samfaina.