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