Catalan Coca with Sweet Onions, Piquillo Peppers, Olives & Aged Manchego Cheese

First, let me clarify a few points. A Catalan Coca is not:

  • a cheap local version of Coca-Cola
  • a parrot species
  • a planet in the Youssou n’dour solar system
  • your long-lost grand aunt

I’m pretty confident with the statement above as i always do my homework before writing a post (..hmm..yea right!). So what the heck is a Catalan coca, then?.. Something really delicious of course. Look…

Coca is one of the most popular dish of Catalonia, if you never heard of it you’re certainly familiar with a few of its cousins – there’s pissaladiere in south of France, flammenkuche in Alsace and of course.. Italian pizzas everywhere. The Coca is a sort of oval flatbread pizza that comes with a variety of delicious toppings, although there’s usually no tomato. There are many different kinds of course, even sweet ones, but in my opinion this adaptation of a Jose Andres recipe found in Tapas: A Taste of Spain captures best the essence of this beautiful region. This is a trip to Barcelona in every bite my friends.

Anyway, who doesn’t like the sound of piquillo peppers, sweet vidalia onions, olives, Spanish olive oil, aged manchego cheese and anchovies on a flatbread pizza… Hmm?… What do you mean you can’t hear the sound?.. Come closer to your computer screen.. a little closer.. closer.. a little more.. See!? Ahh! No, no.. don’t thank me. It’s quite alright.

The panel of judges at work agreed without any argument. This is the real deal, they said after the first bite. In fact we thought it was so good we plan to serve it as one of the amuse-bouche for a large dinner party in the Hamptons at the end of August, but more on that in a few weeks…

I did notice quite a few anchovy haters out in the blogosphere which saddens me a lot, so as an attempt to convert them into anchovy lovers, i thought about sending some anchovy inspiration their way. Repeat the following lines a hundred times and get ready for some anchovy lovin’ baby…

Anchovies, anchovies you are so delicious!

You are my favorite, of all fishes!

I know, i know …this attempt at auto-suggestion is bound to fail miserably, if you still hate anchovies after this exercise make yourself known. I want names in the comment room. Names! I can already tell you there will be spank ..err.. sanctions.


[And thank you all for your participation in the Jammin’ Giveaway. The winner will be picked on Tuesday.. Good luck everyone!]

Catalan Coca with Anchovies, Piquillo Peppers & Aged Manchego Cheese
Adapted from Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America by Jose Andres.
(Makes 8)

For dough:

  • 2 packets (1/2 oz.) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 c. whole milk, gently warmed
  • 2 tablespoons spanish olive oil
  • 1 cup plus 3 tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

For Flatbreads:

  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbs. dried oregano
  • 20 kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1 c. piquillo peppers (a little less than a 13 oz. jar), cut into long strips
  • 16 oil-packed anchovy fillets, halved crosswise
  • 6 oz. Manchego cheese, grated (about 1 c.)

  • Stir the yeast and the olive oil into the warmed milk and let it rest for 5 minutes. Add the flour and salt to a food processor and pulse to combine. Pour the yeast mixture into the food processor and process for 1 minute, or until the dough is well-mixed. Remove the lid and cover the bowl of the food process with plastic wrap. Leave it in a non-drafty place to rise for 30 minutes.

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the olive oil to a large skillet, preferably cast iron or nonstick, and heat to medium-low. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasional for 15 to 20 minutes, or until caramelized–very soft and brown. Season with salt and pepper once they start to soften. If the skillet gets too dry before onions are done, add 1/2 tablespoon of water to prevent them from burning. Remove from heat and set aside.Coast two baking sheets with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper.

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    • FranMag

      I happen to love anchovies so this sounds perfect!

    • Manggy

      Well, I don’t know if the anchovy is my favorite of *all* fishes, but it sure is up there :) I’ll remember to prescribe that mantra to anyone who needs it!

      That pissala– er, coca looks extremely delicious! I’ll have to give it a try sometime!! :)

    • AzAzura

      I can just have anchovies on its own, but its not my favourite fish of all time.This is a perfect dish , Im hungry now

    • Adam

      Wait… so we’re not learning about parrots here? Man, I had my coco puffs here and I was psyched…

      Those flat breads look downright amazing dude. I love all the flavors you incorporated, and I’m with you and the anchovies. They really aren’t THAT bad… maybe just a little salty.

    • T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types

      I wish I’d logged in yesterday – I’m putting together a little tapas this afternoon, and it’s the perfect day for a little tapas on the deck in the Spanish way. Who can possibly hate anchovies? Those sweet, savory and salty flavors sound delicious.

    • Mike of Mike’s Table

      I’m not sure where I stand on the anchovy front, so there’s only one way to find out, right? These flatbreads look absolutely delicious though–I love all of the flavors you’ve got going on here.

    • Elra

      Love pissaladiere & flammenkuche and now Catalan coca….
      Another list recipe that I must try!

    • Elle

      I love anchovies! These look freaking amazing, Zen. How could they not be with all that delicious stuff on them?

    • glamah16

      You dont have to convince me about anchovies. I love them. People have to give them a chance.Im sure these will be a success at the party!

    • Ann

      Awesome! We used to get extemporaneous cocas whipped up by the chef at a tapas restaurant here in the hood. Just loved them. Yours looks fabulous!

    • We Are Never Full

      inds think alike! i forgot we actually made a coca 2 weeks ago! we had all those piquillos to use up and we had leftover pizza dough and we did the same thing! SO delish. yours looks absolute delish too.

      oh and i wrote you back re: chick pea flour on our blog.


    • Chicopea

      ahh I heart anchovies! (even sardines, the other underdog). I think you’ll be able to change the minds of people that don’t like them Zenster, rock on!

    • Heather

      You forgot to mention the other kind of coca this isn’t.

      Okay, this dish is so apt and au courant, so à la mode. What is better during the summer than small plates and pecking at little salty bits and cheeses? Nothing, that’s what. Except for lots of wine and short shorts.

    • the single girl

      i’m drooling.

    • Emiline

      I think you should give away a trip to Spain with this post…

      I love everything that you put on these flatbreads, so I know I would like these. Mmmm…olives, Manchego, onions.

      It it the oval shape that makes them a coca? This is such a cool idea. Love it! :)

    • waliz

      looked like one of those pizza to me…the difference is the shape…

    • My Sweet & Saucy

      Perfect party food if you ask me! These look delicious!

    • Jenny

      I was afraid of anchovies as soon as I found out they were in Caesar dressing, but I’ve grown to love them and think I’d love this beautiful dish!

    • The Caked Crusader

      You had me at “manchego” – I would take it intravenously if I could!

    • Lisa

      I think I could eat a catalan coca for breakfast now. Very nice!

    • Clumbsy Cookie

      “Anchovies, anchovies you are so delicious! You are my favorite, of all fishes!”… 98, “Anchovies, anchovies you are so delicious!
      You are my favorite, of all fishes!”… 99, “Anchovies, anchovies you are so delicious! You are my favorite, of all fishes!”… 100!

      I did it! I did it! Let me go to the kitchen and make this right now to see if I like them allready. I did not know about the 100 times tip for liking things, you’re so smart Zen!

      It looks gooooooooood, I mean with those ingredients how can it not be perfect?! I just had sweet cocas in Barcelona. Good stuff.

    • Meghan

      anchovies are fine by me… maybe a little more chopped… the way I use them in lots of “grandmother italian recipes” they tend to disolve… so I’m not used to them this way…

      that being said… I’d grab this right up! looks… FANTASTIC!

    • Claude-Olivier

      bien sympa ces petites choses, je les vois très bien sur ma table au salon avec une bonne bouteille pour un sérieux apéro! ciao

    • doggybloggy

      would it be too rude for me to ask for all of these and let you make more for the rest?

    • [eatingclub] vancouver || js

      Wow, these look just scrumptious! I must admit I haven’t heard of coca before (thank you for writing about it and sharing), but I think I’ve fallen in love with the idea of it now.

    • Olga

      another funny and delicious post! Not an anchovy fan, but then I also thought I did not like smoked oysters and was surprised to find out that they are not all that bad :)

      and could we get a translation for what the cute Claude-Olivier said? lol

    • Nina’s Kitchen (Nina Timm)

      Whatever the heck you call it, it looks so awesome and tasty!!!

    • Darius T. Williams

      Sooo – can I just say that you got me at aged manchego cheese – and black olives – lol?


    • Big Boys Oven

      Only Zen Chef knows how to do this so perfectly! wow! :)

    • canarygirl

      Esta coca me tiene loca! Anchovy haters don’t know what they’re missing. Gorgeous coca, Zen! :)

    • Dhanggit

      how can’t i not love this ZenChef, it has all the goodness and yumminess of a pissaladiere and a pizza!! i definitely adore your CAtalan Coca!! and your humor too :-) hehehe

      btw, i have never tried manchego cheese ..i’ll definitely have to try this one of these days!

    • Kate / Kajal

      Hey thats something new i learnt today. But they still look live oval pizzas … ‘whats in a name ‘ neways right :p
      And … was 30 mins enough to rise the dough ? They look delicious BTW !

    • Monica

      anchovies and sardines, so salty yet fishy…queens of the sea you are so delish-y!
      You’ve inspired me to write fish poetry as well—you like?

    • A_and_N

      Hi there, first time visitor. Great flatbreads! the pictures are mouthwatering. Funny intro too :)

    • TavoLini

      yummmmmm! I’ve never heard of Coca, but have a tendency to make homemade pizzas that are quite similar. Your toppings sound FANTASTIC!

    • kittie

      Wow – these are just gorgeous – I love Catalan food!

    • Norm Schoen

      I love your food and your writing.
      Ditto on the anchovies as well, they bring so much flavor to the table!

    • Jan

      Those flat breads look amazing! I’m not too sure about the anchovies – but I’d give them a go!

    • Sweet Tooth


      Thank you very much for this post. It looked so delicious and was so well written that I left the post open in my browser ever since I first saw this. Tonight I finally made it for dinner – it was as good as expected.


      Alexandra, who omitted the anchovies

    • So Simple

      Found your blog through Anali and love the flatbread recipe will be trying it for lunch next week.
      Have you tried white anchovies they are fab.