Just a short, simple post today, as a send-off to my favorite season. Life’s feels complicated right now, but I can’t help but feel gratitude for the bounty of my garden, and for my girlfriends who wined and dined with me while my other half was in Amsterdam on business for 11 days. This meal was the perfect celebration of all of the above. Without further ado…
Part roasted vegetable lasagna, part ratatouille, this end of summer dish is the perfect way to celebrate your last and best garden picks. This is slow food–Don’t make it when you’re in a hurry. Take the time to slow roast the tomatoes, letting them collapse into a complex, jammy sauce. If you are running short on time, don’t have access to enough fresh tomatoes, or just don’t have enough oven space, follow the recipe for canned tomatoes. The eggplant, red bell peppers, squash and eggplant should be spotted golden on the outside, and will melt with buttery smoothness on the inside.
For the Vegetables:
2 small eggplants (or 1 medium), cut into 1/4 inch sheets
1 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/4 inch sheets
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch sheets
2 red bell peppers, cored and sliced into sheets
For the Quinoa:
1 1/2 cups dry quinoa, rinsed well and drained
3 cups water (scant)
2 small sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped oregano leaves
1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus more for garnish (optional)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 recipe Slow-Roasted or Slow-Simmered Tomato Sauce (see below)
1)To ensure good timing, start making the slow-roasted tomato sauce first.
2) Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Place the vegetables in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and toss to coat. Arrange the sliced red bell pepper, zucchini, yellow squash and eggplant in a single layer on two baking sheets. Roast in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes. Check the vegetables sporadically, as some will cook faster than others. Remove pieces that are softened and specked golden, then allow the remaining vegetables to finish cooking.
- Place the washed quinoa and a scant 3 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Stir the olive oil, herbs, parmesan (if using) and kosher salt into the quinoa.
- Reduce the oven heat to 375˚F. Spread a layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of an 8 x 11’’ casserole dish, followed by a layer of roasted vegetables, then the quinoa mixture. Repeat in the same order–sauce, vegetables, and ending with quinoa, until all ingredients are used. Sprinkle the top lightly with parmesan.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the sauce layers bubble and the top is golden in places.
Slow-Roasted Tomato Sauce
Any type of ripe tomatoes can be used here, although paste tomatoes such as Romas or San Marzanos will yield a thicker sauce. I prefer to use a mix of paste and slicing tomatoes. To ease up the oven for roasting vegetables, make this sauce the night before and chill until needed.
4 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the side of a knife
1/2 cup olive oil
1) Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Halve and core the larger tomatoes and remove most of the seeds. Arrange the tomatoes face down in a single layer on two rimmed baking sheets. Place three smashed garlic cloves on each pan. Drizzle each pan with olive oil (1/4 cup for each pan), and sprinkle generously with kosher salt.
2) Roast in the oven for 90 minutes to 2 hours, or until the tomatoes have collapsed, and released much of their liquid into the pan. Check the tomatoes periodically, and if they begin to cook too quickly, turn the oven heat down. Smaller tomatoes will take less time to roast. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Pull offthe skins from most of the larger tomatoes. They should slip off easily. If not, cook the tomatoes for longer.
3) Smash the tomatoes and garlic cloves with a wooden spoon until you have a semi-smooth sauce that still has some tomato texture.
Slow-Simmered Garlic Tomato Sauce
2 28-ounce cans good quality whole tomatoes
1 small head garlic, cloves peeled and minced
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt to taste
crushed red pepper flakes to taste
small bunch fresh oregano, leaves picked and chopped
Heat a few large glugs of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and saute, stirring frequently until the garlic is softened and is just barely beginning to turn golden. Immediately add the canned tomatoes and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the sauce at slightly above a simmer for 35-45 minutes, occasionally stirring and crushing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Once the sauce has thickened and most of the tomatoes have broken down, season to taste with kosher salt, and add the crushed red pepper and fresh oregano. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.