I bake all or some of the vegetables on the ingredient list, depending on what my garden produces. For example, I omit the eggplants and increase the amount of zucchini in June, when I harvest more zucchini than I could otherwise cook. Needless to mention, again, that simple dishes like this one depend on the quality of the vegetables.
Choose the freshest vegetables from your local farmer’s market and your summer roast will always be spectacular, no matter what vegetables you choose. Sometimes we bake the vegetables in the wood-fired oven and, of course they are even more delicious!
Leftovers are great as a topping for polenta or grain pilaf. You can also spoon them on toasted pita or bread to make a bruschetta, topping them with crumbled feta; They also make a great base for omelet or frittata.
2 medium eggplants, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
2 large tomatoes, cored and sliced
5 small zucchini, cut into 1-inch rounds
2 green and 2 red bell peppers, cored, quartered, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 medium red onions, halved, each half cut into 4 wedges
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed (fronds reserved), halved, each half cut into thin wedges
3 medium carrots, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
2 heads of garlic, halved horizontally
2/3 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons Maraş pepper or crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
2 tablespoons dried Greek oregano or thyme, crumbled
Reserved fennel fronds and tender stalks, coarsely chopped
3 teaspoons zaatar blend (optional) or oregano
3-4 fresh thyme sprigs, or a handful of shredded basil leaves
Place the eggplants in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt. Let stand for 30 minutes or longer, up to 3 hours. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F.
Line a large baking dish that can hold the vegetables in one layer with parchment paper and scatter half of the tomato slices.
For the sauce: In a food processor or blender combine the olive oil, garlic, turmeric, cumin, pepper, oregano or thyme, fennel fronds and salt to taste. Pulse to get a thick sauce.
In a large bowl combine the drained eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, onions, fennel bulb, carrots, and the garlic halves. Pour the sauce over and toss well with your hands or with 2 spatulas.
Transfer to the baking dish, cover with parchment paper and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the parchment paper, toss with 2 spatulas, lay the tomato slices on top, sprinkle with zaatar or with oregano and bake another 15 minutes, or more, until all the vegetables are tender. The top should char a bit as the tomatoes and vegetables caramelize.
Sprinkle with fresh thyme or basil and serve warm or at room temperature.