Ratatouille of Roasted Vegetables

1 large head garlic
12 ripe plum tomatoes, cored, halved and seeded
1 large eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
2 small summer squash, cut in half lengthwise
1 spanish onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 large red bell pepper, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
1 large yellow bell pepper, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons olive oil, preferably extra-virgin
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Set oven racks at the two lowest levels; preheat to 450 degrees F. Peel away as much of the papery skin from the garlic as possible and wrap the head loosely in aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the garlic is very soft. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, lightly coat 2 baking sheets with vegetable oil or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange tomatoes, eggplant slices, zucchini, squash, onions, red bell peppers and yellow bell peppers on the prepared baking sheets. Roast for 20 minutes, turning once, until just tender and browned. Let cool slightly. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Separate garlic cloves and squeeze the soft pulp into a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven. Slip skins from the tomatoes and peppers. Slice all the vegetables into pieces and add to the garlic. Stir in basil, olive oil, thyme, oregano, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Cover and bake, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until heated through and thickened. Remove bay leaves. Taste and adjust seasonings, and serve hot or at room temperature.

Makes about 5 cups.



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