Oven-Roasted Summer Vegetables / by Anthony Michael Contrino

Many people don't like to turn their oven on during the summer.  I do.  It ensures that the air conditioning will kick on, and, while my kitchen may be slightly warm, I'll be able to see my breath in the living room.

Anyways, roasting vegetables intensifies their flavor and the light caramelization brings out their sweet side.  When in the height of their prime, these vegetables do not need much, just some good extra virgin olive oil and some herbs.  

You can eat this dish hot out of the oven, warm, at room temperature, or even refrigerated.  If you can't find the mini versions of these vegetables, you can use the larger, more common size.  Try to find the smallest vegetables possible, as they'll be less seedy and bitter.  Just cut the vegetables into large batons or sticks.  Finally, if you're feeling bougie, garnish with some zucchini flowers.

Oven-Roasted Summer Vegetables // Serves 4

8 ounces baby eggplant, tops removed and halved lengthwise 

8 ounces baby zucchini, tops removed and halved lengthwise 

8 ounces mini cherry tomatoes, on the vine

1/2 cup high-quality extra virgin olive oil, divided

4 large sprigs thyme

Salt and pepper

Parsley, for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place the eggplant in a casserole dish.  Add 1/4 cup of the oil and season generously with salt and pepper.  Roast for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss the zucchini with 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Carefully coat the tomatoes with the remaining oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

When the eggplant has cooked for 15 minutes, add the zucchini and thyme and toss well.  Place the tomatoes on top and roast an additional 15 minutes.  

Before serving, sprinkle with some fresh black pepper and chopped parsley.