Last night’s dinner put an additional dent in my reserve of olive oil (currently five different kinds), tahini, and herbs, and completely used up the basmati rice. It also made excellent use of Sunday morning’s farmers market haul.
Pattypan squash, white eggplant and long peppers were tossed with olive oil, garlic paste, salt and herbs and roasted at high heat until caramelized outside and tender inside. The roasted vegetables were served on a bed of buttered rice and topped with a cool and lemony sauce of yogurt and tahini, which I’d previously modified from one of my legitimately Greek cookbooks. If you preferred to use this as a side dish, you could forego the rice or other starch and toss the vegetables lightly with the sauce instead.
I must give His Lordship credit for the roasted vegetables, since he did all the prep work and came up with the marinade. His mad knife skills are greatly to be envied, and his creativity is boundless and seldom disappoints.
Roasted Vegetables with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce
Serves 4-6 as main course over rice, more as a side dish
4 small eggplant, in 1/2-inch dice
1 lb summer squash, in 1/2-inch dice
1/2 lb of mild long peppers, in 1/2-inch slices
5 cloves garlic
1/4-1/3 cup regular olive oil (not extra-virgin)
1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs (Penzeys Parisien Blend)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup yogurt, preferably Greek
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, preferably infused with lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic
Half a dozen stiff shakes of Tabasco or other hot sauce
Salt and pepper
Sufficient hot water to dilute as necessary
Buttered basmati rice or egg noodles, if desired
Thinly sliced green onions for garnish
Position the oven racks in the middle and lowest position, and preheat oven to 450 F. Line two baking sheets with foil or parchment.
Place the cubed eggplant in one large bowl, and the summer squash and peppers in a separate bowl.
Mince the 5 cloves of garlic until fine, then sprinkle with salt and smash under the flat side of the knife until a smooth paste forms. In a small bowl, combine the garlic paste, olive oil, herbs, paprika, salt and pepper. Pour half the marinade into each bowl of vegetables, and toss until everything is evenly coated.
Spread the eggplant in a single layer on one sheet and the squash and peppers on the second, and place each sheet on a separate rack in the oven. Roast until vegetables are caramelized and tender, approximately 20-30 minutes, stirring the vegetables and rotating their pans once during baking.
While the vegetables are roasting, repeat the smashing process with the final clove of garlic for the sauce. Add the paste to a large glass measuring cup, and whisk together with all the sauce ingredients except the water until well combined. Taste and correct seasonings as necessary, then stir in enough hot water to dilute to the consistency of heavy cream. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Serve the roasted vegetables over buttered rice or noodles, drizzled with several spoonfuls of the yogurt sauce and sprinkled with the green onions.
It’s preferable to use ordinary olive oil rather than extra virgin for the roasted vegetables, since extra-virgin will lose its flavor under the high heat anyway. For the sauce, which is uncooked, a good extra-virgin is best, and if you have lemon-infused, by all means use it.
Since we have Penzeys Parisien herb blend, that’s what we used. You could make your own blend of chives, dill, basil, tarragon and chervil, or any combination of dried herbs you prefer. If I’d had some, minced fresh parsley would have been an excellent addition to the finished dish, for both flavor and color.
The sauce will get increasingly garlicky the longer it sits, so if you want it really strong, prepare it well ahead. Conversely, if you’re garlic-averse (hey, it takes all kinds), cut the garlic to half a clove and make it just before serving.