07 July 2008

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables


Last week my husband and I set out on a road trip. Our destination was California. Our plan was to visit family then drive back home more slowly, making several stops along the way. We hadn't been on a real road trip in years, but still we fondly remember our long drives home to Kentucky when we were newlyweds. We have also enjoyed various cross country journeys to visit friends and family or to show our children the fabulous places we remembered from vacations when we were kids. With summer finally here we ignored the price of gas, packed up the car and headed south like we might have done in the old days. We drove under blue skies reveling in the warm summer sunshine and decades of wonderful memories together.

As we approached California the blue skies turned to gray. Through most of northern California we were surrounded by a sometimes claustrophobic haze of smoke from the wildfires. The smoke made Mt. Shasta look like a ghost hovering on the horizon, with only the remaining streaks of snow high on its peak visible in the distance.


Shasta Lake had an eerie appearance, so low with fires burning on the hillside nearby. Beyond the Lake, south on I-5, the smoke grew even thicker as the landscape rolled and changed. The smoky atmosphere felt close around the fields of fruit trees and bright happy sunflowers. Finally the sky opened up a bit north of San Francisco and a splendid sunset broke out in the west as we approached our destination.

While staying with family we enjoyed two days of near perfect weather. We sipped margaritas under a gorgeous palm tree and sat poolside beside mounds of fragrant lavender. One evening we had dinner on the patio, enjoying the wonders and peculiar blessings of my sister-in-law’s Aga Cooker. To prepare dinner we roasted vegetables in one oven while baking Zucchini Bread, then Honey Chocolate Cake, in another and poaching salmon on the boiling plate.

There is nothing like a sense of adventure and the company of friends and family to add to the enjoyment of good food and its preparation. This meal was a fabulous beginning to our nostalgic driving vacation break. Things do change over the years, some for better, some for worse, but in the company of family and friends we were thrilled to find that we are all still engaged in the journey, still enjoying each other’s company and still thankful for that blessing.


Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables with Balsamic Dressing
From “Real Food – Fast” by Mary Berry

3 T olive oil
12 oz. eggplant, trimmed and cut into thin slices
12 oz. zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1 ½ x ½ in batons
2 yellow peppers, seeded and cut into large pieces
1 large onion, cut into thick wedges
2 cloves garlic, with skins on
salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 T balsamic vinegar

Pour the oil into a large roasting pan. Add the prepared vegetables and garlic and toss until thoroughly coated with the oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

Place the pan in a preheated 425 degree oven (or in the Aga roasting oven) for approximately 30 minutes, stirring once at the halfway point, until golden brown and just tender.

Peel the roasted garlic. Place it in a small bowl then squash it into a paste with the back of a spoon. Add the balsamic vinegar and mix thoroughly. Pour this mixture over the vegetables and serve.

To serve as a salad:

When the vegetables are removed from the oven add:

2 oz of tomatoes
8 oz of goat’s cheese or buffalo mozzarella
1 large bunch of basil leaves

Toss well.

This can be served hot or cold. It makes a great take along salad for picnics or outdoor gatherings.

6 comments:

Ricki said...

Sounds like a lovely little trip (except for those grey skies. . . ). And that salad sounds fabulous--I agree, it would be the perfect take-along.

Paula said...

What a great trip! Look at those rows of sun flowers! Those roasted vegies look terrific. I especially like how the zucchini is slided into batons. Great, great dish!

Grace said...

lovely pictures, lovely veggies! sometimes i think i'm adopted and my ancestors are actually mediterranean--i love their cuisine! :)

Kristen said...

I do hope those wildfires get under control soon!

Sounds like you had a lovely trip despite.

eatme_delicious said...

Yum!! I love roasted vegetables and I want to eat more eggplant so this looks just perfect. And the roasted garlic/balsamic dressing! I definitely have to try that.

Lisa said...

Ricki - The drive down was smokey but the Bay Area, while not unaffected, was pleasant.

Paula - The sunflowers were so pretty and Van Gogh-like.

Zucchini does not naturally slice up into nice batons but it does add a bit of variety to the shape of the vegetables in this dish.

Grace - Thanks! Me too...

Kristen - It was still a great trip, though certainly more smokey than expected.

Eatme_delicious - The dressing was different and oh so simple and tasty.

Thanks for stopping by!