Vegetable Cake with Tomato Coulis

Vegetable Cake
olive oil or olive oil spray
1 large eggplant
2 large zucchini
2 yellow squash
2 fennel roots, cleaned and julienned
1 medium yellow onion, julienned
salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, deribbed and julienned
1 green bell pepper, seeded, deribbed and julienned
2 cups shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded, deribbed and julienned
Tomato Coulis
6 tomatoes, peeled and seeded
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Basil Oil
1/2 bunch basil, stemmed
1/2 cup virgin olive oil
salt to taste
rosemary sprigs

To make the vegetable cake: Preheat the broiler to highest setting. Cut small discs from the ends of the eggplant and squashes, then cut the vegetables in long 1/8-inch thick slices. Spray or drizzle a sheet pan with olive oil, and spread the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, fennel and onion slices on the tray. Drizzle or spray with olive oil again, and season with salt, white pepper and a little thyme. Place under the broiler for 30 to 60 seconds, until slightly softened and beginning to brown. Broil in batches if necessary.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Spray or oil a 12-inch springform pan. Lay the eggplant slices in the pan, extending over the edge, midpoint at the rim of the pan, all the way around. Put the zucchini in the bottom of the pan, overlapping the eggplant — be sure to save a few slices to seal the cake at the end. Repeat with the yellow squash. Sprinkle with thyme, half of the garlic and white pepper. Fill with the fennel, tomatoes, yellow peppers, onions, the remaining garlic, green peppers, shiitakes and red peppers. Press down gently. Fold the overhanging strips over the top of the cake, and close the center with the reserved zucchini strips. Bake 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Drain any juices that have accumulated. Cover the top with plastic wrap, and place a large heavy flat object on top to press down. Refrigerate overnight.

To make the coulis: In a medium pan over medium-high heat, combine the tomatoes, tomato paste and olive oil. When the mixture begins to bubble, lower the heat to medium and add the vinegar, salt and pepper. Cook until the mixture has thickened and reduced in volume by at least a fourth. Press through a fine-meshed sieve and set aside.

To make the basil oil: In a food processor or blender, blend the basil and olive oil until well puréed. Adjust seasoning with salt. Press through a fine-meshed sieve and put into a squeeze bottle.

To serve: Take the cake out of the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap. Open the springform pan and remove the vegetable cake. Cut in wedges. Place a slice on each serving plate, and pour tomato coulis around the sides. Drizzle with basil oil and garnish with a rosemary sprig.

Makes one 12-inch cake

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