ROASTED VEGETABLES, ESPECIALLY FENNEL
The larger the oven, the better to roast a variety of the vegetables of the moment. I’ve come to prefer oven-roasting to grilling vegetables. The individual flavors are accentuated, while grilling imposes its own smoky taste that can be overwhelming. Oven-roasted fennel is unbelievably good. I find myself stealing a piece as soon as I turn off the oven. Roasting twice as much as you need to serve is a good idea—think of the next day’s pasta, salad, and sandwich possibilities.
Bramasole Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Bell Peppers, quartered or sliced
Fennel, quartered or sliced
Zucchini and Summer Squash, halved or sliced in coins
Eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch slices
Heads of Garlic, cleaned of papery covering
Tomatoes, halved or quartered
Fresh Thyme Leaves, slivered basil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Generously oil a large-enough nonstick baking sheet with low sides, or line the pan with parchment. Best to roast a lot of vegetables, so two probably will be needed. Arrange the peppers, shallots, fennel, zucchini and squash, eggplant, garlic, and tomatoes separately on the sheets. The zucchini will be done first, so maybe put it on a separate sheet. Moisten well with olive oil, and sprinkle with herbs, salt, and pepper. Scatter the lemon zest over the vegetables. Tip: Toss each vegetable in a blow with the olive oil so that the vegetables moisten evenly.
Slide the pans into the oven and roast about 12 minutes, then start testing the squash and zucchini, removing them as they are done. Turn the eggplant and peppers. Everything should be done before 30 minutes have passed.
Arrange the vegetables on a platter. Use more olive oil if anything looks needy. Sprinkle with parsley and more herbs, if you like. The garlic requires hands-on attention. Have your guests pull off the cloves and squeeze them onto bread.
PS—It’s so handy to have oven-roasted tomatoes on hand. We often roast two pans at 300 degrees, letting them stay in long enough to slightly caramelize, about an hour depending on the size.
The Tuscan Sun Cookbook