I know they look all shriveled and weird but you gotta trust me on this one. The longer they roast, the sweeter the juice (isn’t that a Tupac song?) and I’m telling you these taste pretty dang wonderful despite their wrinkly cloaks.
Beneath the layer of gorgeous tomatoes lay pearlescent rounds of eggplant, amber-flecked and yielding to the touch. I’ll be honest and tell you that I didn’t used to be a fan of eggplant. I always associated them with the horribly over-sauced and mushy eggplant parmesan you find at big chain Italian restaurants, that is until I got some in my CSA basket a few weeks ago and was forced to make them into something.
This casserole actually ended up being a collaboration of many things from my basket: juicy, right off the vine tomatoes, sweet hungarian peppers, and of course the plum-stained eggplant.
As they roasted, I fell enamored with the smell wafting through my kitchen. The mix of the tomatoes slowly melting and releasing some of its’ juices over the onions (I added a few clippings of onions since they were just begging to be used somehow whilst they lay lonely in my crisper drawer) and peppers took on the familiar and comforting aroma of pizza. When I just couldn’t take it anymore, I ate them with slices of fresh mozzarella cheese and seriously closed my eyes and convinced myself I could eat this every single day for the rest of my life and be happy. It was that good.
I urge you to try this as a final hurrah to summer’s dwindling offering of fresh tomatoes — I was able to find a small selection of heirloom ones at the grocery store but I’m sure you’d still come across some at the farmer’s market. Do eeet!
Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes and Eggplant Casserole
I imagine this dish to be fairly flexible in that you can substitute the vegetables for others. For instance, zucchinis, sweet potatoes, and thinly sliced mushrooms might work well here. Also, it’s notÂ imperativeÂ you use heirloom tomatoes either, flavorful romas or even some smashed cherry tomatoes would taste delicious, too.Â
Serves 8-10 as an appetizer/side or 4-6 as a meal
4 heirloom tomatoes of varying color and sizes; sliced into about 1/2″ thick rounds
1 small eggplant; sliced into 1/2″ thick rounds
1/2 medium yellow onion; cut in half then sliced into half moons
1 sweet hungarian sweet pepper; stem and seeds removed then chopped roughly
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a large, rimmed baking sheet drizzle some extra virgin olive oil to coat and then use a brush to cover the whole thing. Start by layering the slices of eggplant on the bottom, overlapping slightly if you run out of room. Don’t worry, this doesn’t have to look perfect and symmetrical, this whole thing will roast and get soft and gorgeous and you won’t even be able to tell. Season very liberally with salt and pepper. Drizzle some more oil on top. Sprinkle the sliced onions and peppers all over the eggplant. Then, start your final layer of tomatoes. Okay, so I did make some extra effort to arrange the tomatoes by color, just for pretties sake, but you totally don’t have to. I’m just weird and non-sensical sometimes. Season with another helping of salt and pepper. Top with parmesan cheese and one last drizzle of oil before popping the whole thing into the oven for a 35-45 minute roast, or until the vegetables are fork tender and the tomatoes have shriveled up and browned to the point where you think you’ve gone horribly wrong. Don’t be alarmed, it’s supposed to look this way and your taste buds will thank you.
I ate this at room temperature with slices of fresh mozzarella cheese over the course of several days. Lovely.