We had a new farm join our local market, offering amazing eggplants and peppers. To celebrate this event, I wanted to make a ratatouille with my haul, but I wanted to avoid the mushy, watery pitfalls of this vegetable stew. So I decided to roast the vegetables to bring out their flavors and keep down their liquid content: the eggplants by themselves with no crowding, peppers and leeks were allowed to intermingle and caramelize, and cherry tomatoes with garlic and fresh herb de Provence components to make a roasted tomato sauce (for bulk I added a couple of regular tomatoes stewed in the cherry tomatoes' juices and a splash of vermouth). Then I assembled it all in a spring form pan with sliced zucchini layers and fresh basil leaves. The final dish is an intensely flavorful tart (a huge bulk of vegetables condensed down into a one inch disc), which was delicious served sliced and accompanied with goat cheese and crunchy bread. —Fairmount_market
Cut the eggplant into 3/4 inch cubes and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper in a baking dish large enough so that the cubes are spread out in a single layer. Roast, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes until the cubes are browned and cooked through.
Cut the peppers into 1 inch pieces and the white part of the leek into 1/2 inch discs. Toss in olive oil and salt and pepper and roast, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes until they start to brown and release their juices.
In an ovenproof skillet, toss the cherry tomatoes and peeled garlic cloves with olive oil, salt, and pepper, fresh rosemary and marjoram leaves, and fennel fronds. Roast for about 15 minutes until the tomatoes have collapsed and some of their juices have cooked down. Transfer the roasted tomatoes, garlic and herbs to a food processor. Adjust the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees.
Return the tomato skillet to the stovetop and heat with a little more olive oil. Slice the large tomatoes and cook in the pan about 3 minutes per side. Add the white vermouth and let the tomatoes stew as the liquid reduces by about half, making sure to scrape off any caramelized juices from the roasted cherry tomatoes. Add the contents of the pan to the food processor and blend into a smooth tomato sauce. Adjust seasoning.
Slice the zucchini lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips. Oil the bottom and sides of a 10 inch spring form pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with zucchini strips, and then with a layer of basil leaves. Layer on the roasted eggplant, followed by another layer of zucchini strips, then the roasted peppers and leeks, then a final layer of zucchini strips. Pour the tomato sauce on top and spread to cover the top.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes until the tomato sauce is bubbling and has started to brown a bit. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before gently removing the side of the spring form pan. Serve slices warm or at room temperature.
I'm a biology professor and mother of two, and in my (limited) free time I love to cook, which is much more forgiving than laboratory science. Last year I helped start a farmers market in my neighborhood, and to promote it, I created a food blog: fairmountmarket.blogspot.com. I enjoy the challenge of coming up with recipes for local, seasonal ingredients and finding fun ways to cook with my children.