Where do you see yourself in five years? That’s a standard go-to question for interviewers, strangers trying to get to know you, and family members when you’re graduating High School or College. So, you make something up like I did. If you asked me that question five years ago, walking on the moon would’ve been a more likely answer than what I’m doing now–writing about vegetables. Five years ago I hated vegetables. I would spend hours at the dinner table avoiding anything green and colorful, meanwhile wishing I were up in space eating packaged space food. Thankfully, my dad is so stubborn about Greek food it was only a matter of time I finally began eating and enjoying healthy Greek dishes. Now I even write about how much I enjoy vegetables.
One of my favorite Greek vegetable dishes is Briam. It’s a traditional dish that’s simple, tasty, and can be enjoyed year round, though it is mostly considered a summer dish when the freshest vegetables come farm to table, or from your garden. You can find many Briam recipes depending on the flavors and vegetable combinations that that particular cook enjoys. With Briam, I can mix and match my own favorites. For example, I love spicy foods, so I add more spicy vegetables and herbs—even Mexican peppers, like Jalapeno or Serrano on occasion. This recipe is just a tool you can either follow exactly, or subtract vegetables you may not be fond of, and add more of what you do. Use whatever vegetables you have in your fridge before they go to waste. The fun thing with Briam is it can be different every time. Your taste buds won’t be mad at whatever the outcome is. Now, time to load up the veggies and enjoy one of the healthiest dishes you’ll ever eat.
- 1 eggplant, cut into ½ inch slices*
- 1 lb potatoes, peeled and sliced into rounds
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced into rounds
- 2 red onions, thinly sliced
- 4 medium tomatoes, sliced
- 3 bell peppers (whatever color you like), sliced
- 1 jalapeno or serrano (optional), sliced
- 1 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 Tablespoons Greek oregano, or more to taste
- 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- 1 cup of water
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- To bake the Briam, use a casserole dish, or deep ceramic baking dish.
- Begin by layering the potatoes and zucchini at the bottom of the casserole dish. Then, the eggplant, onions, and peppers, tomatoes, and any other vegetable you use (create your own arrangement to your liking—no rule here, but I start with potatoes and zucchini at the bottom because they take longer to cook). Be sure the vegetables are placed snugly next to the other.
- With each layer, drizzle olive oil, then season with garlic, oregano, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the tomato sauce and water, and then drizzle with olive oil. Be generous with the olive oil so the vegetables don’t burn, plus it creates a nice sauce. Season with a dash of oregano and salt and pepper on top.
- Cover your Briam with your casserole cover or pottery cover to keep vegetables moist. You may also use aluminum foil.
- Cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Halfway through, check on the vegetables and stir around, and add extra liquid if necessary. Remove the lid or aluminum foil and cook until the vegetables are tender and brown.
- Allow to cool. Serve with feta and warm bread.
Note about cutting vegetables: Cut all into similar slices so you can layer them into patterns, or you can just as easily cut them into bite-sized chunks and toss it all together.