Char-Baked Tomato, Zucchini, and Eggplant

Ingredients

  •  
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced
  • 5 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small eggplant, about 6 inches long, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 zucchini, about 5 inches long, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

A vegetable side dish — or vegetarian main dish — that even those who think they hate zucchini and eggplant will love. The trick to this dish is to bake it much longer than you might expect and keep pushing down the mixture with a spatula to release the moisture. When it's done, the vegetables will be deeply caramelized, soft, and luscious.

From Lucinda Scala Quinn's "MAD Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys."

See all eggplant recipes.

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Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Pour some of the olive oil to cover the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch rectangular or 12-inch oval baking dish. Layer in half of the onion slices and one third of the tomatoes. Generously sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add a layer of eggplant and sprinkle on more salt. Add another third of the tomatoes, the zucchini, garlic, thyme, and the remaining onions. Top with the remaining tomatoes. Press down on the mixture with your hands. Pour over the remaining olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper. (Don't worry. The vegetables will be piled high but collapse as they cook.)

Bake uncovered for 1 1/2 hours. After 45 minutes, press the mixture down firmly with a spatula. The vegetables should be reduced in height, and should be brownish-black and caramelized, almost charred in places. Return to the oven to finish roasting. Let cool for at least 10 minutes, so the mixture can solidify a bit. Cut into squares and serve.

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