Lynne Rossetto Kasper
Host of The Splendid Table
produced by Minnesota Public Radio and Tom Voegeli Productions,
distributed by Public Radio International






EARLY AUTUMN VEGETABLE ROAST
Verdure al Forno
From The Italian Country Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper
Copyright 1999 By Lynne Rossetto Kasper Permission by Scribner, New York

If there is one taste I associate with Italian home cooking, it's foods browned until they're crusty in a saute pan or roasted in an oven. Roasting elevates vegetables to main-dish status. In Italy, every season has its roasted vegetables, and every household its favorite herbs and other mixtures for flavoring them. Though in this recipe the vegetables are on the cusp of summer and autumn, it invites variations through the year. Don't shy away from those you typically wouldn't roast, such as green beans, corn, peas, asparagus, scallions, parsnips, rutabaga and greens. Timidity is roasting's only enemy. Take vegetables all the way to crusty brown. Although this list of ingredients may seem long, it is only a collection of seasonings tossed with a variety of roasting candidates. Play with it as you will.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 small to medium eggplant, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch wedges
  • 3 small zucchini, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • Salt
  • 2 medium onions, each cut into 4 wedges
  • 2 to 3 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed), minced
  • 3 small pattypan squash, cut into large chunks
  • 1 sweet red pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into large chunks
  • 1 large stalk celery with leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large handful green beans, trimmed and cut into thirds
  • 1/3 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted
  • 1/2 tightly packed cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 tightly packed cup fresh marjoram leaves
  • A 6-inch branch fresh rosemary
  • 4 branches fresh thyme
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 medium ripe, delicious tomatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks

1. Toss the eggplant and zucchini with about 2 teaspoons salt, spread them out between two triple thickness of paper towels, place a baking sheet or cutting board on top, and weight with several cans for about 30 minutes

2. In a large bowl, blend together the remaining ingredients except the garlic and fresh tomatoes with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Let stand at room temperature.

3. After 30 minutes, if possible, add the eggplant and zucchini to the other vegetables. Set a large shallow heavy roasting pan (a half-sheet pan is ideal) on the oven's middle rack. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. With oven mitts, remove the hot pan from the oven. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Spread the vegetables over the pan and roast 30 minutes, tuning occasionally for even browning. Scatter the garlic and tomatoes over the vegetables and continue roasting 15 to 30 minutes longer, turning occasionally, or until the green beans are tender.

5. Turn the vegetables out onto a platter, taste for seasoning, and serve hot or at room temperature. The vegetables could be garnished with sprigs of fresh herbs.

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