We’re Cooking: Three Italian Veggie Side Dishes

Last Sunday Gary spent most of the day making homemade linguine in an intensely flavorful fresh and sundried tomato sauce with pancetta and herbs.  Amazing! (recipe to come) 
To pair with it I made a few Italian inspired vegetable dishes completing our own little Big Night dinner for friends.  Cooking Italian does tend to take us a bit more time than some of our creations, but a day cooking in the kitchen with my sweetie is a good day so a little extra time creating great flavors for our friends is worth it. 


Slow Roasted Tomatoes with Basil and Garlic

I make these a lot, so I have posted other versions of this recipe but it is such a great go to if you have the time.  We used grape and sunburst tomatoes this time and made sure we had about 5 hours for them to roast creating little tomato candies which were sweet, fragrant and delicious.

1 pint Sunburst golden tomatoes, halved
1/2 pint red grape tomatoes, halved
4 ripe Roma tomatoes, quartered 
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt and pepper each
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons fresh basil – chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley – chopped

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl add everything except the fresh herbs and mix well.  Spray a sheet pan well with cooking spray and tumble the tomatoes onto the pan and spread into one layer (without any of the tomatoes overlapping) and sprinkle lightly with 1/2 of the parsley and 1/3 of the basil.  Roast for 2 hours and stir.  If the tomatoes are sticking you can add a bit more oil or vinegar (I tend to add a bit more vinegar if anything, the heat makes the vinegar syrupy and super sweet.)  Continue checking/stirring over the next few hours about every 20 minutes.  After about 4 1/2 – 5 hours (if you have that much time, minimum of 3 hours) remove from oven and sprinkle with the rest of the fresh herbs and scoop into a serving bowl.  Set aside until ready to serve (can be served hot, room temp or cold.)  Reserve the pan the tomatoes were roasted in for the peppers.  Do not clean it off.

Roasted Peppers with Garlic, Thyme and Parmesan

3 large bell peppers – red, yellow and orange (we don’t like green peppers, but you could also use green if you like the flavor), cored and cut into quarters
3 cloves garlic – minced
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
10 springs fresh thyme, stems removed
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl mix all ingredients except the fresh herbs and cheese together.  Spray the pan the tomatoes were roasted in again with cooking spray and tumble the peppers out in one layer, with the skin side down.  Cover the peppers with the fresh thyme and place in oven.  Roast for about 20-30 minutes until the peppers get very soft and the skins are slightly blistered.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with the cheese, covering all the peppers.  Return to oven and roast for about 10 more minutes until the cheese is melted and toasty.  Remove from oven and garnish with the fresh parsley.  Spoon into a dish and serve warm.

Zucchini Ribbons with Mint Rosemary Pesto

As noted, we have a lot of pesto these days.  This one I made with fresh mint, parsley and rosemary out of our garden mixed together with about 2 cloves of garlic, 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, 1/2 fresh lemon juice and a good dose of grapeseed oil. 

2 zucchini squashes – sliced lengthwise into long ribbons with a mandolin or vegetable peeler
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil – if you have rosemary or lemon flavored olive oil even better, we love the rosemary olive oil from St. Helena Olive Oil Company in California
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic – minced
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
2 tablespoons mint and rosemary pesto

In a medium mixing bowl combine the oil, lemon juice, rosemary, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Add the zucchini ribbons and allow to marinate for at least an hour, not more than 2 1/2.  About 10 minutes prior to serving heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and toss in the squash and garlic.  Saute until the squash is cooked and slightly golden.  Let cool slightly and scoop into the serving dish and top with the parsley then drizzle evenly with the pesto.  Serve slightly warm so the pesto melts into the squash.