Vegetarian Roast Beast 8.000

Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post

Nov 16, 2016

This roasted stack of vegetables takes on holiday flavors from a sage-infused pesto and smoked Gouda cheese. To make it vegan, substitute a vegan cheese of your choice; we recommend Chao by Field Roast.

You’ll need three 17-inch-long flat metal skewers.

Make Ahead: The eggplant needs to rest, salted, for a total of 1 hour. The roasted "beast" can be cooled and refrigerated for up to 3 days; wrap it tightly in several layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Leave it wrapped for reheating in a 300-degree oven until warmed through, about 30 minutes.


Servings:
8

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 8 servings

Ingredients
  • 1 medium Italian eggplant (1 pound), sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts (may substitute slivered almonds)
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 cups lightly packed parsley leaves and tender stems
  • 1/2 cup packed sage leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 5 large portobello mushroom caps
  • 1 small (1 pound) delicata squash
  • 1 large white onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 6 ounces (4 large slices) smoked Gouda (may substitute smoked mozzarella or a vegan cheese)
  • Cooked orzo or couscous, for serving
  • Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
  • Rosemary sprigs, for garnish

Directions

Sprinkle the eggplant slices on both sides with 2 tablespoons of the salt and set them in a colander in the sink. Let them sit for about 1 hour, until they give off moisture, then rinse, gently squeeze each slice between your hands to rid it of extra moisture, and pat them dry.

Meanwhile, position an oven rack 6 inches from the broiler element; preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the peppers on the baking sheet; broil until charred black on all sides, turning them with tongs as needed. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and top with a plate to steam. Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, rub off and discard the charred skins. Tear each pepper carefully in two, removing and discarding the stems and seeds.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Line a large roasting pan with foil, then seat a V-rack inside it.

Set a small skillet over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and toast, tossing them in the pan occasionally, until they are lightly browned in spots and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Immediately transfer them to a plate to cool.

Return the skillet to medium heat and pour in the oil. Once it shimmers, add the smashed garlic and cook until just browned, 4 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

Combine the pine nuts, parsley, sage, vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt in a food processor. Pour in the garlic and its oil (from the skillet), and pulse until the ingredients are well incorporated but still a little chunky. Transfer the pesto to a large bowl. Add the portobello caps and eggplant slices, and gently turn them in the pesto to coat, using a rubber spatula to smear the pesto all over the vegetables. You’ll have some pesto left over; reserve this for serving.

Use a sharp serrated knife to cut the squash into 1/2-inch-thick rings. (Leave the squash unpeeled; the skin is tender enough to eat when roasted.) Use a spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds and pulp from each ring.

Lightly season the squash rings, onion slices and roasted red pepper halves with the pepper and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Thread the vegetables onto a skewer: If you'd like, stand the skewer on your counter with the sharp end pointing straight up and the ring end on the counter, and thread from the top down. Start with a mushroom cap, with the outside of the cap facing the ring end of the skewer, and follow with a slice of eggplant, a squash ring, half of a roasted pepper, a slice of Gouda and a slice of onion. (The first skewer will not pierce the flesh of the squash rings, but try to keep them even with the other vegetables as you work. You basically will be making a giant kebab.) Repeat this pattern more times, packing the kebab tightly as you go. End on a mushroom cap, this time with the outside of the cap facing the pointed end of the skewer. Press the stack tightly together and pierce all the way through it at an angle with the two other skewers, using them if possible to go through the flesh of the squash rings. (Reserve any extra vegetable slices for another use.)

Transfer the kebab to the rack and roast, turning it every 10 minutes, for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are browned and almost tender, and much of the cheese has dripped out.

Use a serving spoon to scrape up the cheese and lay it back on top of the kebab, and baste the kebab with the pan juices. Cook for an additional 20 to 30 minutes without turning, continuing to scrape up the cheese and baste every few minutes, until the eggplant and squash offer no resistance when pierced with a fork.

Remove the kebab; scrape up any more cheese and spoon it on top, along with pan juices; tent with foil and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. (Some cheese may have burned on the foil; that's okay.)

Transfer to a platter of couscous or orzo, pouring any remaining juices over the top. Top with the remaining pesto, then drizzle with balsamic vinegar and garnish with rosemary sprigs and sage leaves.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from a recipe in “The Chubby Vegetarian,” by Justin Fox Burks and Amy Lawrence (Susan Schadt Press, 2016).

Tested by Joe Yonan.

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Email questions to the Food Section at food@washpost.com.