The logo that you see to the left comes courtesy of Alanna of A Veggie Venture, who invites all of us bloggers to use it whenever writing about fresh produce. Hopefully it’ll encourage everyone to seek out local sources of produce, wherever you live. Click on the blushing tomato to find your local farmers’ market. (The logo was designed by the very talented Kickpleat of Everybody Likes Sandwiches.)
It’s Farmers’ Market season again! Here in Jackson, the farmers’ markets and roadside farm stands all close in the winter (or the ones that stay open are very limited in what they offer). This weekend was the summer opening of the Mississippi Farmers’ Market, which features produce, goods, and plants strictly from in-state farmers. I got a chance to drop in on Saturday and was thrilled to see at least three organic farms selling their goodies. I snagged some organic blueberries, green beans, a large costata romanesco zucchini, and some young garlic. I also got some sweet little plums that I started snacking on right away:
Late last week, E. and I paid a visit to the roadside farm stand near our home and came away with several bags full of fresh produce, including gorgeous, large eggplants, white pattypan squash, and lovely ripe tomatoes. Roasted Vegetable Napoleons, one of the most delicious things we have eaten lately, uses all three of those vegetables plus some dark opal basil from our garden.
This dish is either extremely easy or extremely complex, depending on your viewpoint. On the one hand, the method is so simple that I really don’t need to provide a recipe: Roast some sliced veggies and then stack them up with pesto in between and top with caramelized onions and more pesto. On the other hand, making this left my kitchen in a complete shambles, took up all the space in my oven, and had me speeding around trying to make sure everything was done at the same time.
Roasted Vegetable Napoleons
Rather than a recipe, here are some tips for putting this together.
- Marinate slices of eggplant (about 1/2-inch thick) for about 1/2 hour before roasting. I used a fat-free Italian dressing, but you can use whatever marinade you think will complement your vegetables.
- Slice other vegetables about 1/2-inch thick. (I used pattypan squash and tomatoes, but feel free to use what you have available.) Preheat the oven to about 425F and spray baking sheets or dishes with olive oil. Plan on about 2-3 slices of each vegetable for each napoleon.
- Put all the vegetables except the tomatoes in the preheated oven. Watch carefully, and just before the veggies appear done, put in the tomatoes (sprinkled with salt and pepper, if you wish). Tomatoes cook more quickly so they need less time. You can even put the tomatoes under a broiler to speed things up.
- While the vegetables are roasting, caramelize some chopped onions by sauteing in a non-stick skillet. Adding a little water as they cook and allowing it to cook off increases the browning and the caramelized flavor.
- Make the pesto while the vegetables roast. Follow your own favorite recipe or see my easy one below.
- When the vegetables are done, stack them on appetizer plates, alternating veggies and smearing just a bit of pesto between them. Sprinkle with browned onions and top with a large dab of pesto. Enjoy!
Here’s the quick pesto I threw together for this recipe:
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup packed basil leaves (I used dark opal basil, which explains the purple specks)
1/4 cup panko or other dried bread crumbs
2 tablespoons water
salt to taste
Put the garlic and pine nuts into a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add the basil leaves and bread crumbs and pulse to chop. Add the water and salt to taste and process until it forms a thick, coarse paste. (Add more water by the teaspoon if necessary.)
Use this very concentrated pesto sparingly. I used about a third of this recipe to make 4 napoleons and saved the rest for other dishes.
My basil plants are growing like weeds, which to me signals the start of pesto season. Pesto is probably my favorite sauce, and I use it to flavor just about everything. If you’re beginning to be blessed with summer basil, here are a few pesto recipes from the archives to help you get the most out of your harvest:
Roasted Eggplant Pesto (possibly my favorite pesto)