That, friends, is one homely mess of vegetables. I almost didn’t share the recipe with you, it being rather underwhelming in the looks department, but the flavor (oh man, that flavor!) was so worth it that it seemed a bit unfair to keep all to myself. Those streaks in the bottom of the pan? That’s where we dragged pieces of ciabatta through to scrape up the very last little bits. (I didn’t throw “scarpetta” into the name of this blog for nothing.)
Layers of eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini and onions slow roast in a hot oven until they collapse and relax into one another, and it’s almost hard to tell where one vegetable starts and the other begins. Ever had a batch of ho-hum ratatouille or a soggy vegetable tian and think this could be so much better? Try this. Lucinda Scala Quinn’s trick is to press down on the veggies (use the back of a spatula or a wooden spoon) a few times during cooking, which releases the moisture so it can steam away, and all you’re left with is caramelized, olive oil-kissed goodness. (Smart!) This dish makes a delicious end-of-summer side to grilled fish or meat, but I could easily tuck into a plateful all on its own.
Slow-Roasted Summer Vegetables
adapted from Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Mad Hungry, 2010
- one small-medium eggplant, thinly sliced crosswise and cut into half-moons
- 5-6 small tomatoes, thinly sliced (Early Girls, if you can find them)
- one yellow onion, peeled and sliced
- 2-3 medium zucchini and/or summer squash, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, divided
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- kosher salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Splash a little of the olive oil into a glass or ceramic casserole dish (9×13 or a 12″ oval). Add half the onions and a third of the tomatoes. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon oregano. Add a layer of eggplant and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add another third of the tomato slices, the zucchini, garlic, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon of oregano and 1/4 teaspoon salt. (If you have any leftover eggplant and zucchini, layer it on top.) Add the remaining onions and tomatoes. Smush the vegetables down a bit with your hands. Drizzle the rest of the olive oil over top.
Bake for 1 1/2 hours, uncovered. About 45 minutes in, smush the mixture down firmly with the back of a wooden spoon or a spatula. (The veggies will have shrunk down quite a bit and gone a little charred at the edges.) Return to the oven for another 45 minutes, pressing once more halfway through. Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.