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Briam - The Greek Ratatouille

It does not get more traditionally Greek than this classic recipe. It is a mingle of various vegetables that are allowed to slowly cook and mellow in the oven, in a fragrant tomato sauce with a lot of olive oil.

This is my favorite version, with a few key points to apply to any other variation and vegetable combination you might prefer. The quantities are indicative for a large tray.

First key point, prepare the sauce in a pan before you pour it in the tray with the vegetables. So, saute in a some olive oil:

  • Fennel, finely cut, 1/2 pc

  • Onion, finely cut, 1 pc

  • Garlic, finely cut, 3 big cloves

  • Ginger, finely cut, 2 tbsp

Deglaze with:

  • Wine, 1/3 cup - Although I usually use dry white, I prefer either red wine or a sweet wine like (Marsala or Shaoxing) for this recipe.

Mix in a bowl and add to the pan:

  • Tomatoes, grated, 3 pcs

  • Tomato paste, 2 tbsp

  • Sugar, 1 tsp

Let it bubble away for a few minutes, taste and adjust:

  • Salt

  • Pepper

As I love spicy food, I also add some Sriracha, or chilli flakes at this stage.

Second key point is the size of vegetable tray. You want a big enough tray that will enable the vegetables to be spread out and not packed on top of each other, in order to have them properly roasted and caramelized, and not mushy and boiled. Third point is the relative sizes of the vegetable pieces. You want bigger chunks of the eggplants and zucchinis for example which are soft and cook quicker, and considerably thinner for the harder ones, for example potatoes and carrots, which take longer to cook. I use the following:

  • Eggplants, 2 pcs, cut in half lengthwise and then in 3 cm pcs

  • Zucchini, 2 pcs, cut in 2 cm rounds

  • Red Pepper, 1 pc, in stripes of 1,5 cm

  • Green Pepper, 1 pc, in stripes of 1,5 cm

  • Carrot, 1 pc, in rounds of 0,5 cm at most

  • Potato, 2 small pcs, cut in quarters lengthwise and then in 2 cm chunks

  • Onion, 1 pc (yes, you want it in the tray as well as in the sauce), in 1 cm rounds or stripes

Place them in the tray, spread them out, and pour over them:

  • Olive Oil, at least 1/2 cup,

and this brings us to the fourth key point which is to make sure every last inch of the vegetables is generously oiled - Use your hands, it is utterly satisfying! Then also pour the sauce over, mix well, and add 1/3 cup of water to the bottom of the tray.

The cooking method is the fifth key point. Start with a very hot oven, 230 C, convection mode, and place the tray, uncovered, for 25 minutes, so that it quickly reaches a high T. Then lower T to 180, cover the tray well with foil, and cook for another 80 minutes. Finally, if you want some of the delicious, heavenly, burnt edges, remove the foil, and place under the grill for a few minutes.

The sixth key point is the addition of herbs after the cooking but while still hot. I like to use the following:

  • Dill, fresh, thinly cut, 1/3 cup, packed

  • Parsley, fresh, thinly cut, 1/2 cup, packed

  • Oregano, dried, 2 tbsp

The seventh and final point, probably the most important one, is you should let it come to room T and rest for at least 2 hrs before serving. The aromas, and flavours get stronger the more it rests and the colder it is. In fact, it tastes better the next day, and I personally prefer it cold, from the fridge.

Drizzle some more olive oil, and sea salt flakes before eating, and ideally serve it with feta cheese, or another white cheese of your preference.


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