ina garten roasted eggplant, summer meal
Long ago some friends and I gathered on a balcony overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The crisp navy sky shone with pinpricks of light while a harvest moon hung so low that I wanted to rope it and bring it down to earth. We listened to the ocean lapping at Positano’s shore and settled in for a long evening of laughter and food. Sea breezes, good friends, and a heaping platter of tasty finger foods–is that the absolute definition of summer bliss or what?
I wanted to recreate those distant evenings on the Amalfi Coast with a wealth of easy, make ahead delights: roasted eggplant spread, adorably puffy mini pitas, hummus, and olive oil infused vegetables that go on for miles. Stuff all that goodness into a pita and top with slices of turkey sausage and you are in business. It’s not strictly Italian, but this breezy Mediterranean-inspired summer meal would fit right in with all the linen trousers, Vespas, and lemon gelato that abound. Now all you have to do is gather your favorite people in one place and feast on each other’s company. 

ina garten roasted eggplant spread, summer meal
Adapted from Ina Garten
This is pretty much the only way I will eat eggplant (unless it’s deep fried and smothered in cheese). Roasted with red bell peppers, sweet onion, and garlic, the eggplant mellows out. It pairs beautifully with fresh pita and works equally well slathered onto a crusty baguette and topped with salty salami.
  • 1 eggplant, sliced into strips
  • 1 sweet yellow onion, halved and sliced into strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
  • olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 package sweet Italian turkey sausages
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

Preheat oven to 425 F. Put all the prepared vegetables on a baking pan and drizzle with olive oil. Eggplant soaks up oil like nobody’s business, so don’t worry if they don’t look shiny. I used maybe 3-4 tablespoons. Sprinkle everything with salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper.

If you’re making the sausage, nestle the links among the vegetables. To roast more vegetables (we used zucchini and onions), just toss them onto another baking tray with olive oil, salt, and pepper and bake along with the eggplant mix. Roast the vegetables for 45 minutes, until vegetables are deeply browned and soft. Place the sausages on a serving tray to cool.
Put the roasted eggplant mix in a blender or food processor with the tomato paste and pulse a few times until you get the consistency you like. Serve with freshly baked pita (we use this easy pita recipe by Under the High Chair), your favorite hummus (use used Trader Joe’s Roasted Red Pepper Hummus), and sausages. 
Everything can be prepared the day before and do well at room temperature. Obviously, use your judgement with the meat and definitely store it in the fridge, if you’re making it the day before. Oh, and don’t forget to top your evening off with a scoop (or three) of gelato and lady fingers!

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    • says

      I am seriously so jealous of your garden! Our potatoes are coming up in spades though–I'm getting excited to harvest them. Let me know how your eggplants fare with this spread 🙂

  1. says

    Cindy from (Hungry Girl Por Vida) just directed me to your blog and I love it! It's so happy and bright and pretty. And I'm so excited that you're a Michigan blogger! I live in Ferndale. 🙂

    Glad I found you!

  2. says

    This type of meal is my favorite for summer…like a giant snack plate!

    Thanks for visiting my blog! I was totally excited to see that you are in Michigan as well. We should lunch, one day!

  3. says

    Amy, you have a fantastic blog!! I love it…it is so witty and beautiful. Thanks for posting the link in my ElvisFest comments. It looks hilarious. Can't wait to keep up with you and all your adventures.

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