So, my first cooking "competition" for a fabulous charity, the Ronald McDonald House Charity, and I tried something I have never made before. And honestly I could not find on the internet. I went with my instinct and the idea was making me drool, so I knew it couldn't be bad! BTW, my team won the cooking challenge! One lady helping the other team had 5 pieces!! And one judge who had eaten 6 dishes, came back for more of this after!
The chef's challenge was a blast! Leading up to it I was a bit stressed because it was a very busy week for me. And I can't say I felt no pressure. I mean I have a cooking blog. What would it say about me if I lost?
The challenge: 3 hours, a secret ingredient (sweet onions) must be in at least one dish, cooking for 40 people, and 3 kitchen helpers (who were incredible!). Must do a main dish, dessert and side dish or appetizer.
We got there early and set up a little, and went to work right at 3. The chicken was perfectly done (dumb luck), and the cupcakes... well, 1/2 came out lovely, and the other half collapsed. Oh well. Judges got the good ones. And this stuff?
Can I just say, I could live on this stuff! It turned out dreamy and this is for sure my kind of food!! I made like 8 times what I would make for just my family, so I will try to adapt the recipe down for you to enjoy! SOOO Yum! Make it!
- 2-3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil (plus some for brushing on bread)
- 1-2 TBSP butter
- 1 large sweet onion, finely diced
- 1 red pepper, diced fine
- 2 small zucchini, diced super small
- 1 sm-med eggplant, peeled, seeded and diced fine
- 1 head of garlic
- salt and pepper
- 1/3 cup shaved Parmesan
- 1 baguette sliced on the bias (diagonal)
Preheat oven to 350. Chop top off garlic and place in foil. Drizzle with a tsp of olive oil, season with some salt and pepper. Place in oven to roast for 45 min to an hour. Meanwhile, dice all veggies fine. In a large skillet place half the oil and half of the butter (start with less, can add more as needed), add onions and peppers only. Cook on med- med/high heat. Season with salt and pepper and some garlic powder if desired. Cook until soft. Reduce heat to med low and continue to cook. In another skillet, add remaining olive oil and butter and the eggplant and zucchini. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook over med- med high heat until soft (about 20 min) stirring every so often. Add to onion and pepper, taste for seasoning. Remove garlic from oven, squeeze the garlic from the skin and chop up. Throw in with the other veggies. Cook until almost like mush (I know, sounds gross, but trust me!). Should have a touch of texture, but mostly, all melt together.
Cut bread, toast and brush with olive oil, or brush with some olive oil and broil. Top with spoonful of veggies and some shaved Parmesan. I also drizzled the bread with a touch of balsamic glaze before topping, to add some sweetness.