Terrine of roasted vegetables makes a healthy first course or sandwich stuffer

September 19, 1993|By Marie Bianco | Marie Bianco,Newsday

Americans have never been a nation of vegetable lovers. French fries, maybe, and some ketchup. Add a few leaves of iceberg lettuce and some corn on the cob during August, and you have the total vegetable consumption of many.

One of the reasons we don't eat more vegetables is because they can be dull, especially now that butter and cheese sauce are verboten.

Enter roasted vegetables. And one of their possible conclusions, the roasted vegetable terrine. As we knew them, vegetable terrines consisted of layers of pureed vegetables cooked so long that they lose all their taste.

The "new" vegetable terrines are constructed from layers of roasted vegetables. The roasting caramelizes their natural sugars and brings out intense natural flavors. To us, they may be new, but they have been seen in the south of France for many years.

Gerald Heyden, the chef at the recently opened East Hampton Point in East Hampton, N.Y., combines layers of roasted peppers and portobello mushrooms, braised celery root and whole leeks in a terrine lined with braised bright-green leek tops.

Vegetable terrines are not fast food. They take time to prepare and must be started the day before so they can chill. A terrine, however, makes a dramatic first course and a terrific sandwich between slices of toasted sourdough bread.

Roasted vegetable terrine

Makes about 8 servings

2 large yellow peppers

2 large green peppers

2 large red peppers

1 pound eggplant

2 medium zucchini

1/2 cup pitted gaeta olives

7 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

12 fresh basil leaves

1. Lay the peppers individually on their side and cut off 1/2 inch from each top and bottom. (Save this portion and use for salads.) Set the peppers upright and make 2 cuts from top to bottom, on opposite sides. Open up the peppers, pull out the seeds; trim and discard white pith.

2. Place 4 to 6 pepper halves on a flat dish, cover with wax paper and microwave 4 minutes. Remove from microwave, brush with olive oil and grill until tender. If the peppers do not lie flat, use a dish or a skillet to weigh them down. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Peel the eggplant and slice vertically into 1/4 -inch slices. Place on flat dish, cover with wax paper and microwave 4 minutes. Brush with olive oil. Grill until tender. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Cut off ends from zucchini and slice vertically into 1/4 -inch pieces. Place on flat dish, cover with wax paper and microwave 4 minutes. Brush with olive oil and grill until tender. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Line a terrine or 8-by-4-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving an 8-inch piece overlap on each of the short ends. Line the bottom with the grilled red pepper, cutting it to fit, if necessary. Cover the pepper with layers of eggplant and zucchini, and top with the basil leaves, the goat cheese and half the olives. Continue making layers with the vegetables, cheese and olives, ending with peppers. Fold the plastic wrap over the vegetables.

6. Find a piece of wood, cardboard or foam that just fits the top and cover it with foil or plastic wrap. Place on the vegetables and weigh it down with a brick or several cans of food. Refrigerate for 24 hours. To facilitate cutting, place the terrine in the freezer for 1 hour before serving.

7. When ready to slice, remove weight and plastic wrap. Place a cutting board on top of the terrine and flip the two over. Remove plastic wrap. Using a serrated knife and a sawing motion, cut terrine into 3/4 -inch slices.

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