This week for our series of Catalan dishes, El Nacional's chef, Oscar Manresa, from Barcelona's Casa Leopoldo, brings us an excellent seaside salad from the south of Catalonia: Vilanova xató salad.
Xató is a salad of curly endive leaves with cod, anchovies, Arbequina olives dressed in a sauce also called xató. Xató, as in the sauce, is similar to the traditional romesco. We've got that recipe in Catalan and Spanish, but it's very easy: a blend of roasted red pepper, nuts (hazlenuts and almonds), garlic, oil and toasted bread to give it body. It seems that the addition of tomatoes, when it comes to xató, is a subject of debate.
The recipe dates back to festivals organised to celebrate the arrival of the new wine each year. It goes well with a whole variety of other local dishes: tortillas, spinach, aubergine, etc.
Although we've attributed the dish to Vilanova i la Geltrú, and it's certainly from the comarques (counties) of Penedès or el Garraf, its exact origin in disputed. These days many towns and villages around the area have at least one version of the recipe, hold xatonades, where families or groups of friends gather to enjoy the dish and see competitions over who makes it best.
Ingredients for 4
cod - 300g / 10.5oz
curly endive - 1
anchovy - 8 fillets
olives, destoned, preferably Arbequina - 100g / 3.5oz
- Cook the cod and leave it to cool
- Wash the endive thoroughly and place in a bowl
- Chop the anchovies and olives, tear the cod into small pieces (see video)
- Add the anchovy, olives and cod to the bowl
- Splash over some olive oil, then the xató sauce
- Mix well, to get sauce, endive and a little something else in every bite
- Plate and serve