NZ Gardener - - Recipes -

In­gre­di­ents • 3–4 ta­ble­spoons ex­tra vir­gin olive oil, plus ex­tra to drizzle • 2–3 egg­plants, chopped into 5cm chunks • 4 cour­gettes, chopped into 4–5cm chunks • 2–3 red cap­sicums, quar­tered • 1 fen­nel bulb, sliced (op­tional) Tomato sauce • 50g but­ter (or ¼ cup ex­tra vir­gin olive oil) • 2 onions, chopped • 7 cloves gar­lic, chopped • 2 tea­spoons dried mar­jo­ram • 2 tea­spoons fresh thyme (op­tional) • 1 tea­spoon whole fen­nel seeds • 1 x 400g can chopped toma­toes in juice • 2 ta­ble­spoons tomato paste • 1 ta­ble­spoon red or white wine vine­gar • 1 ta­ble­spoon brown su­gar • pinch chilli flakes • ¼ cup basil leaves, torn

This hum­ble peas­ant-style vege dish is just so de­li­cious — and very pretty! What’s actually hid­ing there un­der­neath all those beau­ti­ful veg­eta­bles is a gor­geously tasty homemade tomato sauce that adds amaz­ing flavour to the dish when it’s served up. You can serve this hot, warm or even cold. Pre­heat the oven to 180°C reg­u­lar bake and have a casse­role or bak­ing dish ready.

Put 1 ta­ble­spoon of the ex­tra vir­gin olive oil in a fry­ing pan over a medi­umhigh heat. Fry the egg­plant pieces un­til golden on one side — 1–2 min­utes only. Trans­fer to a large bowl.

Add an­other ta­ble­spoon of the oil to the pan and briefly fry the cour­gette un­til just golden on both sides. Trans­fer to the bowl with the egg­plant.

Add an­other ta­ble­spoon of the oil and fry the cap­sicum briefly un­til just coloured on both sides. Trans­fer to the bowl.

Add an­other ta­ble­spoon of the oil to the pan and cook the sliced fen­nel (if us­ing), stir­ring, for a cou­ple of min­utes un­til soft­ened. Trans­fer to the bowl.

Put the but­ter (or oil) in the same fry­ing pan and re­duce the heat to medium. Add the onion and cook for 10 min­utes or un­til soft­ened. Add the gar­lic, mar­jo­ram, thyme (if us­ing) and fen­nel seeds and cook for an­other cou­ple of min­utes. Stir in the toma­toes, tomato paste, vine­gar, su­gar and chilli flakes. Season to taste with salt and pep­per. Sim­mer for a cou­ple of min­utes, stir through the basil, then pour into the base of the bak­ing dish.

Ar­range the fried veg­eta­bles on top of the sauce and mud­dle them in nicely. Drizzle ev­ery­thing with a lit­tle more olive oil and season again with salt and pep­per.

Bake in the pre­heated oven for 30–35 min­utes. The veg­eta­bles should be tender but still with a lit­tle bite to them. No one likes mushy veges! PREP 20 min­utes COOK 35 min­utes SERVES 4–6

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