I’d like to share this recipe that my older son made up on the spot, based on vegetables that we had in the apartment, plus some herbs from our grocery store downstairs, which does not have a broad selection. He originally wanted some basil but they had none. He came back with a beautiful bunch of fresh mint instead. Lucky for us I had just learned from my fellow cooking friend, Margaret, that mint is a relative of basil!

Most people know mint as an herb that makes your breath fresh, but it’s been used since antiquity in food, cosmetics, and they’ve even found mint in Egyptian tombs! Fennel is another great addition to any meal, as it’s full of antioxidants and Vitamin C! It’s also a source of fiber, potassium, and has been proven to help fight cancer.

We meant to add fresh grated Parmesan, but honestly it wasn’t needed. The clean tasting vegetables were just delightful.

This son is a great cook – he just gets in there and does things! Fearless and big, that’s what I call him, to which he says, “Thank you!”

3 zucchinis
1 and 1/2 fennel bulbs
2 large red peppers
3 – 4 tbs. olive oil
½ bunch of fresh mint leaves

Broil red peppers, checking and turning until all skin is blackened. Using tongs, place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until cool. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Slice zucchini and fennel on a mandoline, somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. Using 1 or 2 tbs. of olive oil for each vegetable, toss separately in a bowl, with salt and pepper (test and taste for proper seasoning) and lay out each on separate baking sheets. Roast zucchini and fennel until crisp tender. Check in 20 minutes. The fennel will most likely take a little longer. This is why you keep them on separate baking sheets.

Peel the red pepper, core, remove the seeds and cut into 1-inch wide strips.
Layer the zucchini, fennel, red pepper and mint leaves in 10 inch round dish, repeating again until all is used up. Place a plate on top and weigh it down to press ingredients together. We used a 28 oz. can of tomatoes along with a large heavy mason jar of honey on top of the plate. Press for an hour or two. Then carefully slide the torta out, top side up, on a large round cake plate. Cut into pie wedge serving pieces and enjoy!

We used only two red peppers, but three might be better. If you really wanted to, you could also add a layer of grated Parmesan cheese.


About The Author

My name is Mary Frances. I am a designer, creative director, painter, wife, mother and cook. I own an internationally recognized, award-winning brand development and marketing communications firm in New York City, and am a graduate of Parsons School of Design. I especially love to cook and serve great food to make people content and happy. Hearing mmmm’s makes my heart soar. I grew up in suburban St. Louis, in Webster Groves, the youngest of six and the only girl. (Yes, that’s FIVE older brothers!) My mom was a great home cook, and she made sure that I could make a mean pie from scratch. After Parsons, I married, had two boys and moved from NYC to the NJ suburbs where I threw myself into cooking and entertaining. Now it’s time for me to share the great recipes, tips, stories and LOVE with you. The inspiration for LOVE – the secret ingredient www.lovethesecretingredient.net came from our youngest son when he wrote in a gift cookbook that the one ingredient that was ever-present in my meals was love. When you cook with LOVE, everything just tastes better.

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