At some point I was chatting with my neighbor, Mike, outside his house and caught a whiff of something basily and garlicky that smelled fantastic. I asked about it, and that evening Sandy, his wife & also our neighbor, dropped off a jar of roasted vegetables. They were as good as they smelled, and she gave me an approximate recipe. I haven’t managed to quite replicate it, but my attempts have been pretty tasty.
Roasted veggies are something I lean on pretty heavily all year round, but normally I roast with the intent of caramelizing and concentrating flavor. That is often best done with fairly high heat, so that by the time the insides are cooked the outsides are nice and brown. For this recipe you are aiming for the melding of flavors, so a lower temperature and a closed pot are what you want.
The general idea:
- Take a bunch of fresh summer vegetables
- Put them in a dutch oven with a little oil and a lot of garlic and basil
- Bake until done
Vegetables to use:
- Tomatoes, Sandy says Roma, but I’ve tried cherry and grape to good effect. I think that tomato is important for getting the right flavor, but beefsteak type tomatoes contribute a lot of water without adding much flavor.
- Fresh onion, especially red onions.
- Bell peppers, especially red and yellow.
- Zucchini, and lots of it – when the CSA gives me 5 lb of zucchini two weeks in a row, this is where it goes.
- Carrots, though they’re a bit of a textural contrast.
This produces a lot of liquid so, while Sandy doesn’t do this, I’ve experimented with putting dry orzo or dry quinoa in too. The orzo needed to be mixed in with the veggies before any cooking, to keep it from clumping, but the quinoa won’t clump.
The oil, garlic, vegetables, basil, and salt+pepper to taste go in a covered pot in the oven at 325° or 350° until cooked. Give it a gentle stir about halfway through. For my pot (3.75 quart, pictured below) it takes 60-90 minutes.