Xató (pronounced cha-toe) is a typical dish from Catalonia made with almonds, hazelnuts, bread, garlic, roasted tomato and peppers, sherry vinegar and copious amounts of olive oil. You mash everything together with a mortar and pestle, and then serve it with grilled bread rubbed with garlic and a salad typically made with curly endive, Spanish olives, anchovies, salt cod or tuna. The Xató sauce can be used as a salad dressing or just dip the bread in it and enjoy with every bite. Every time I make Xató, it turns out slightly different. This time, I made the salad with chorizo stuffed Spanish olives, arugula and an incredible Spanish tuna that I got from an amazing Spanish store down the street. I splurged…the can of Spanish tuna was $14, but totally worth it, without a doubt it was the best tuna I have ever had in my life! You will want to make a huge batch of this to serve all your friends and family, it's freakishly addictive. —Katherine
Endive or Arugula
Your favorite Spanish olives
Good tuna packed in olive oil, Spanish if possible
Turn on your broiler and char the red bell pepper on all sides until it is blackened. Put the pepper in a bowl and cover to let steam for 20 minutes. Peel and seed the pepper.
In a 375° oven, roast the 2 tomatoes and 5-10 garlic cloves until the skin on the tomatoes has wrinkled and split and the garlic is soft. I like to put my garlic in a little foil packet with some olive oil and salt to roast.
If you have bought non-roasted almonds or hazelnuts, you can pop them in the oven to roast with the tomatoes and garlic for about 10-12 minutes.
Tear up a piece of your good bread and put in a bowl. Pour some of the sherry vinegar on it to soak. I probably use about ¼ cup of sherry vinegar.
Once the tomatoes and garlic have finished roasting, remove from the oven and let cool. When cooled, peel the skin off the tomatoes and pop the garlic out of it's paper.
Time to start mashing! Put your roasted almonds and hazelnuts in your mortar and pestle and start crushing. If you have a small mortar and pestle, you may want to divide your ingredients in half and make two batches.
When the nuts have been roughly crushed, add the tomatoes and the bell pepper. Continue mashing everything together.
Add the roasted garlic and the sherry-soaked bread. Continue mashing everything together.
Season with salt and pepper and drizzle in about ¼ cup of olive oil. Continue mashing everything until the olive oil is incorporated. Give it a taste and dd in another ¼ cup of olive oil....continue mashing until incorporated.
The goal is to have a thick and slightly chunky sauce. That's the beauty of making Xató with a mortar and pestle, you get a rustic texture that a food processor just can’t give you. At this point, you can taste for seasoning. Maybe add another splash of sherry vinegar, another hit of salt or more olive oil. It’s up to you and what you want the overall consistency to be.
– At this point, you can taste for seasoning. Maybe add another splash of sherry vinegar, another hit of salt or more olive oil. It’s up to you and what you want the overall consistency to be.
Once you have finished mashing the Xató, set aside and start making the salad. I tossed a bunch of arugula with the chorizo stuffed Spanish olives and drizzled with a little olive oil and sherry vinegar.
Open the tuna and drain slightly. Chunk the tuna onto the salad.
Grill up a few pieces of your good bread and rub lightly with a peeled garlic clove for extra flavor. Drizzle the bread with olive oil and serve alongside the salad.
I spoon some of the Xató onto my salad and also dip my grilled bread in it. It’s so delicious, you could eat it by the spoonful!