Serves: Makes 6 to 8 servings
- 8 large (about 2 pounds) plum tomatoes, halved
- 2 red bell peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
- 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (1-pound) eggplant, peeled and cut crosswise into 10 to 12 ½-inch-thick slices
- 1 pound all-purpose potatoes, peeled and halved
- 1 pound small zucchini, trimmed and cut lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slices
- 2 cups yellow onion, cut vertically into ¹⁄8-inch-thick slices
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika, preferably smoked
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 cup (about 4 ounces) shredded Manchego cheese
Procedures:Here, eggplants, red peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, onions and zucchini are cooked separately and then layered in a cazuela (gratin) and baked until they melt together. This is a good dish for late summer when these vegetables are at their prime. You can cook the vegetables a day ahead, and then layer and bake them just before serving. The topping of Manchego cheese makes this dish hearty enough to be enjoyed as a main course. You can bake it in 1 large or 6 or more small cazuelas (gratins).
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Arrange the tomato halves and bell pepper halves, cut side down, on a on a large nonreactive rimmed sheet pan. Drizzle evenly with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, arrange the eggplant slices on a second rimmed sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven with the tomatoes and peppers and roast for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned on the bottoms. Remove the eggplant from the oven, and use a wide spatula to turn the slices over. Roast for about 10 minutes more, or until the eggplant is golden brown. Remove from then oven.
At this point, 25 minutes will have elapsed and the peppers will be ready to turn. Remove the sheet pan from the oven and use tongs to turn with them over. Return the pan to the oven and roast for 20 minutes more, or until the peppers are blistered and blackened and the tomatoes have collapsed. Remove the pan from the oven, cover with a sheet of aluminum foil, and let stand for about 20 minutes, or until slightly cooled. Turn the oven off.
While the peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant are roasting, place the potatoes in a medium saucepan and add water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain, let cool, and cut the potatoes into ½-inch-thick rounds.
Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the cazuela or a 10- to 12-inch skillet and heat over low heat. When the oil is hot, increase the heat to medium and add the zucchini in batches. Sauté for about 5 minutes per side, or until browned. Use a slotted spoon or spatula to transfer the zucchini to a colander to drain off the excess juices.
Add the onion slices to the cazuela or skillet and sauté, stirring over medium heat for 15 minutes, or until golden. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the paprika and parsley and remove from the heat. Season with ½ teaspoon of salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Transfer the onion mixture to a side dish.
Lift the foil from the rimmed sheet pan with the tomatoes and peppers. If the skins have loosened, peel them back with your fingertips and discard. If the skins are not loose, leave them on.
In the cazuela or 2-quart shallow baking dish, make single layers of the vegetables in the following order: the eggplant, onion slices, peppers, potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes. Top evenly with the cheese.
Place the cazuela or baking dish (gratin) in the hot oven (it’s fine to put the cazuela (gratin) in a hot oven because it has been preheated on the stove top) and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve directly from the cazuela.