Open Pie with Roasted Peppers and Aubergines (coca de recapte)

Featuring roasted red peppers and aubergines, this open pie makes for a delicious veggie main. The coca de recapte recipe is inspired by Catalonia in Spain.

The Food of Spain
From the book The Food of Spain
Claudia Roden
By Claudia Roden
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Introduction

The most common coca in Catalonia, which is sold in bakeries, has a thin bread-dough base and a topping of roasted peppers and aubergines, onions and tomatoes. They say this coca was born in the area of Lleida and Taragona. It is usually eaten cold (although I like it hot too). De recapte here means ‘what you have in stock’ because you can add the kind of everyday topping ingredients that are normally on hand in Catalan kitchens - see the variations at the end of the recipe.

The recipe I give below uses ordinary dried active yeast. If you have the fast-action instant ‘easy bake’ type of dried yeast, use a 7g sachet and mix it with the flour and all the ingredients at the same time.

Serves 8 as a starter

Ingredients

For the pastry dough:
400g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil, plus a little more for the bowl and to brush the baking sheets
2 tsp dried active yeast
About 200ml warm water (maybe a little more)
¼ tsp sugar
For the topping:
2 aubergines (about 500g)
3 red peppers
Salt
5 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, peeled and chopped
5 tbsp olive oil
2 tomatoes (about 200g), peeled and chopped
1 tsp sugar

Instructions

Put the flour in a large bowl, sprinkle in the salt and add the oil. Put the dried yeast in a glass with about half of the measured warm water with the sugar and stir well. When it begins to froth, pour it into the flour, then gradually pour in the rest of the warm water, stirring it in first with a fork, then with your hand. Add just enough to have a soft ball of dough that sticks together.

Knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic – adding water by the tablespoon if too dry and a little flour if too sticky. Pour about ½. a tablespoon of oil into the bowl and turn the dough over in the oil to coat it well so that a dry crust does not form when it rises. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave the dough to rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours until doubled in volume.

For the topping, put the aubergines and peppers on a sheet of foil on a baking tray. Prick the aubergines in a few places with a pointed knife and put the tray in an oven preheated to 180°C/gas 4 for 45 minutes, or longer. Take the peppers out of the oven when they are soft and their skins have blistered, put them in one or two strong plastic bags and twist to seal. Leave for about 10 minutes, then peel them, remove the seeds and cut them into small squares of about 1.5cm. Take the aubergines out of the oven when they feel soft when pressed. Peel them, put in a colander and press slightly to let the juices drain away. Then cut them into similar sized pieces. Mix the pepper and aubergine pieces together and dress with salt and 2 of the tablespoons of oil so that they are well coated all over.

Fry the onions in the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over a low heat until soft, covered to begin with and stirring often. Add the tomatoes, sugar and some salt, and cook over a medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until much of the liquid has evaporated.

Punch the risen dough down, knead for a couple of minutes and divide it into two balls. Roll them out thinly, on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, into oblong or oval shapes of about 28cm by 38cm.

Brush two large baking sheets with oil. Lift up each sheet of dough by wrapping it on the rolling pin and unwrapping it on to a baking sheet. Spread the onion and tomato sauce evenly over the dough then dot with the peppers and aubergines.

Bake both cocas in the preheated oven at 180°C/gas 4 for about 30 minutes, or until the crust around the edges is crisp and brown. When the one on the top shelf is ready, move the one on the lower shelf up and give it some more time.

Variations:
For coca de cebes of Valencia, with an onion topping, cut 4 large onions (about 1 kg) in half and slice them, then cook in 4 tablespoons olive oil in a wide pan, covered, over very low heat for 40 minutes or until very soft, stirring and turning them over often. It takes a long time because there are so many onions. Uncover towards the end to reduce the liquid and add a little salt and pepper. Spread all over the rolled-out dough. If you like, arrange 12 thin anchovy fillets, or 6 large ones cut in half lengthways, on top, and 12 black olives, pitted or not. Bake and serve as above.

Cut the vegetables into 2cm-wide strips instead of squares and small pieces.

Spread a tin of anchovy fillets in oil among the vegetables for the topping before baking, or a tin of tuna or of sardines, drained and broken into pieces.

Arrange 8 fresh pork sausages, fried and cut into slices, on top.

Add about 16 thin streaky bacon rashers, lightly fried.

Scatter over 500g sliced and briefly sautéed mushrooms.

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