Mariel here. By now I should be a pie crust whiz. Between my mom’s one-on-one training and our joint video demonstration – not to mention the hours I’ve spent fixing my own botched crusts – I’ve had a good deal of practice. That being said, unless I’m making a delicious dessert pie, I’d rather leave the crust-making to the holidays. For me, it’s just too much hassle for any old weeknight dinner. So when I saw the tasty veggie heaven that is my mom’s Bumper Crop Tomato and Zucchini Tart, I immediately began pondering how to capture the same flavors without digging into dough.
The following represents yet another of our dueling dishes, mine tailor-made for the less experienced, less patient or just plain lazier cook who wants to relish all that juicy end-of-summer produce without fussing around with a crust. The only, and I mean the ONLY, thing that takes any thought when it comes to this recipe is remembering to roast the tomatoes about 90 minutes before you’re ready to eat. And you’ve gotta roast the tomatoes, it coaxes out their natural sugars and, well, makes all the difference.
Incidentally, the Sweet Herbed Ricotta is beyond delightful and if you’re lucky enough to have any leftover, spread it on some crackers, flatbread or whatever you’ve got lying around the house: this cheese stands alone.
Roasted Veggie Sandwiches with Sweet Herbed Ricotta
Makes about 10 open-faced sandwiches (depends on size of loaf)
4 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, quartered – $1.71
1 yellow squash, halved then cut into long thin slices – $1.40
1 zucchini, halved then cut into long thin slices – $0.99
1 large Vidalia onion, coarsely chopped – $1.20
Loaf of crusty whole wheat, semolina or sourdough bread cut into thick slices, then lightly toasted – $1.50
1 ½ teaspoons minced garlic, divided – stock
15-oz part skim ricotta – $2.99
1 teaspoon honey – stock
½ teaspoon dried oregano – stock
½ teaspoon dried thyme – stock
1 ½ tablespoons fresh basil, chopped finely
3 tablespoons of olive oil, divided – stock
½ teaspoon sugar – stock
salt and pepper to taste – stock
Salt and pepper – stock
Grand total assuming “well-stocked” kitchen: $9.79
Cost per sandwich: $0.98
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Quarter the tomatoes then place them in a large bowl. Drizzle with a ½ tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lightly toss together, coating everything.
3. Arrange tomatoes in a single layer, skins down, on a cookie sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Roast for 80-90 minutes. After an hour, sprinkle the tomatoes with sugar and continue roasting. Tomatoes will flatten, dry out a bit and crisp up around the edges. Once roasted, pierce with a knife to drain some of the excess tomato juice. Set aside and allow to cool.
4. Meanwhile in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat. Add the onions and caramelize, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Takes about 10-12 minutes.
5. In a medium-size sealable container, combine the ricotta, a teaspoon of garlic, oregano, basil, thyme, honey, salt & pepper. Cover and set aside.
6. After the tomatoes are done roasting, turn the heat in the oven up to 475 degrees; move a rack to the top spot in the oven.
7. In a large bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a dash of salt and pepper, and ½ teaspoon of minced garlic with the sliced zucchini and squash. Toss well. Align the zucchini pieces on a cookie sheet. Place sheet on the top rack and bake for 5 minutes or until the zucchini begins to brown. Remove from oven.
8. Lightly toast the bread right before you’re ready to assemble the sandwiches. Once toasted, start with the herbed ricotta spread, followed by a layer of the zucchini, then the tomatoes and finish with the onions. Leave open-face or top with another slice of bread.