We wanted a flavorful roasted vegetable side dish that would be appropriate served along side a range of main courses, both homey and elegant, and we also wanted to be able to serve it either warm or at room temperature. We quickly learned that paper-thin leafy vegetables such as leeks, radicchio, and Swiss chard don’t work because they become slimy when served cold, while root vegetables such as potatoes and parsnips turn starchy and mealy. We had better luck with vegetables like zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes. After testing a range of cooking methods, broiling turned out to be the best way to achieve plenty of browning on the zucchini and eggplant without overcooking them. Broiling each vegetable separately ensured that they were perfectly done and the pan wasn’t too crowded. We quickly sautéed the aromatics to caramelize them and tossed in cherry tomatoes off the heat, which just warmed them through and melded the flavors. A final sprinkle of lemon juice and basil brought welcome brightness. Undercooking the vegetables is crucial; they will continue to cook after they are removed from the oven. Leaving the skins on the eggplant and zucchini helps keep the vegetables from being mushy after they have cooled. Toasted pine nuts also make a nice garnish.
- Yield: 8 Servings
- Total Time: 50 Minutes
- 3 zucchini (about 1½ pounds), quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise into ¾-inch-wide pieces
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
- Salt and pepper
- 1½ pounds eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 onion, chopped fine
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 12 ounces cherry tomatoes, quartered
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with vegetable oil spray.
- Toss zucchini with 1 tablespoon oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pinch pepper. Spread zucchini in even layer on prepared sheet. Broil zucchini, stirring occasionally, until lightly charred around edges but slightly underdone, 7 to 10 minutes; transfer zucchini to shallow serving dish (or casserole dish). Repeat with eggplant, 1 tablespoon oil, and additional salt and pepper; transfer to serving dish.
- Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, thyme, and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Off heat, stir in tomatoes. Scatter onion-tomato mixture over broiled vegetables. Cover vegetables and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle with basil, lemon juice, and additional olive oil before serving. (Serve warm or at room temperature.)