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.
-10 small baby red potatoes**
-4 medium tomatoes
-2 green peppers
-1 red pepper
-3 medium zucchini
-1 red onion**
-1 white onion**
-1 jalapeno or serrano (optional)*
-1 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
-4 cloves of garlic (to taste), minced
-1/3 cup Italian leaf parsley, chopped or shredded
-salt and pepper to taste
-2-3 Tablespoons Greek oregano to taste
* Other optional add ins: tomato puree, grated mizithra, bread crumbs
** If you prefer you can brown your potatoes prior to baking, and you can also saute your onions if you like them a bit softer in texture.
Note about cutting vegetables: Cut all into similar slices so you can layer them into patterns at the top as I did, or you can just as easily cut them into bite-sized chunks and toss it all together.
- Wash, and slice eggplant and sprinkle the slices with salt and place in a colander as you prepare your other vegetables. Let drain for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375°F
- To bake the Briam, use a casserole or deep ceramic baking dish.
- Layer eggplant, potatoes, zucchini, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and any other vegetable you use in casserole dish (create your own arrangement to your liking—no rule here, but I start with potatoes and onions at the bottom)
- With each layer, season well to your liking with garlic, oregano, olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Garnish with chopped Italian parsley (and toppings like grated mizithra or bread crumbs), and drizzle with olive oil. Be generous with the olive oil so the vegetables don’t burn.
- 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 until vegetables are tender. Start checking your mixture after about 1 hour since some vegetables cook faster than others. Stir if needed.