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Author Notes: All amounts are approximate. The ingredients are endlessly variable. The "recipe" requires no measuring. It can be prepared for the oven in ten minutes left unattended for the hour's duration of oven-roasting. It's a complete meal, made into a veritable feast with the addition of a loaf of crusty bread, a green salad and a rough red wine. —Eileen
Serves 4 or more
- 1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage (bulk or with skins)
- 1 eggplant (small)
- 1 zucchini (or yellow squash)
- 1 pound waxy potatoes
- 1/2 pound white or cremini mushrooms
- 1/2 pound tomatoes (cherry or plum or larger)
- 1 red onion
- 1 bell pepper, any color(s)
- 6 fat cloves garlic, peeled
- extra-virgin olive oil
- coarse salt and freshly-ground black pepper
- fresh herbs such as branches of rosemary, oregano, or basil (optional)
- whole fennel seed (optional)
- To serve: chopped fresh herbs, such as chopped parsley and chives
- To serve: Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated or shaved
- Cut all ingredients into approximately uniform-sized chunks. I prefer walnut-size. Smaller ingredients (like garlic and cherry tomatoes) can remain whole.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Take out a 10 x 14 inch rimmed baking sheet or similar oven-proof pan. On the pan, toss all the vegetables with a generous amount of olive oil, coating them well. (I find it easiest to do this with my hands.) Sprinkle on generous amounts of coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper (and herbs or fennel, if using). Nestle sausage pieces among the vegetables.
- Roast this dish, uncovered, in the oven for one hour. You may turn the vegetables with a metal spatula once or twice during roasting, and I do if it's convenient, but you really can leave this dish unattended for the entire hour.
- After an hour the potatoes should be soft, the sausage cooked, the softer vegetables crisp-edged, and the pan juices concentrated into a lovely sauce. Use a metal spatula to loosen vegetables from the pan and give them a final toss in their pan juices.
- This is now ready to serve, right out of the pan. Optionally, sprinkle on cheese, chopped fresh herbs and additional coarse salt and freshly-ground pepper.
- You can vary this almost infinitely. In winter we might pair bratwurst with root vegetables and add caraway seed. In spring, try lamb sausage with eggplant, zucchini, feta or goat cheese and oregano. If you don't have sausage, omit it (here a nice cheese on the side is lovely) or use cubed tofu. I've served this over plain pasta when bread wasn't available. If there are vegetables languishing in your refrigerator, toss them on. If you don't have an hour, raise the temperature to 400 degrees F. and it should be done in 30 minutes. If you want to leave the house for two hours, roast this at 250. If you want to minimize cleanup, line the pan with parchment paper. (Even without a liner, the pan cleans up easily after a good soak.) You might think you need to cook different vegetables for different amounts of time, but you don't! Shove everything in the oven together, and the first vegetables to cook will give up their juices and acquire a crisp or leathery texture. The variety of textures, flavors and colors makes this dish seem far more complex than it is.