10.12.2018
You can use WP menu builder to build menus

26.06.2016

6 ratings, avg : 4.83
3-4
6.5lt

A traditional Greek summer dish with two twists. It’s made in the slow cooker with practically no effort, and it’s laced with harissa to give it a bit of a kick! Definitely a keeper, especially when we have more courgettes (zucchini) than we know what to do with.

You may know of briam already, either from summer holidays in Greece, or Greek friends in your corner of the world, or even my own post about how it brings back childhood summer memories. Basically it’s a version of ratatouille. Here, the most commonly used vegetables are courgettes (zucchini), aubergines (eggplant) and potatoes. Many people also use green peppers (or even red nowadays), carrots, and herbs. Briam always has onions, often garlic, and usually tomato (mostly fresh grated, since it’s a summer dish). All this yumminess is tossed in lots of olive oil and slow roasted till soft and caramelized.

My version has been adapted to work in the slow cooker. To begin with, all my attempts had a little something missing. Until the last two experiments. The issues I had were mostly to do with the aubergines and the tomato, so I skipped the first, and turned to paste for some flavour without the watery results of the second. Fresh tomatoes have a very high water content, so they were turning my briam into a bland vegetable soup. You can of course make briam without tomato, that’s allowed, but specifically for the slow cooker I feel the veggies need some rich, tasty redness. The more concentrated the tomato, the more it thickens in the crockpot, so I gave paste a go. It worked brilliantly. If you’re reading from the UK, please note it’s tomato puree I’m on about (it’s called paste in the US).

The other day while I was making a final briam test batch (just to triple check the recipe and measurements), I opened the fridge and realised I was out of tomato paste. Oh the horror! While scanning the shelves (“…but I’m sure I had some somewhere!”) my eye fell on a small jar of harissa. Harissa is a Tunisian paste made of a variety of red peppers, spices, herbs and garlic. It looks very much like tomato paste, but is of course much spicier! It took me all but a second to decide I would try that instead. The Mister doesn’t eat briam, so making it spicy was ok since I would be eating it all myself anyway!

Result? Delicious. Both the tomato paste and the harissa are great options, it just depends on whether you want a more classic approach to a traditional Greek dish, or whether you want to give it an exotic flair. I say, try both ways! It’s a brilliant, healthy, tasty dish, ideal for meatless Mondays or vegetarian and vegan diets. How do you serve it? With lots of fresh bread and lots (and lots) of feta cheese (ok that’s not for vegans). Come to think of it, briam would also make a great side dish. Oh and one last thing… if you live somewhere hot, try your leftovers cold from the fridge the next day!

Ingredients

500gr baby potatoes, washed and peeled if desired

260-300gr (about 4) carrots

500-520gr (about 5) courgettes (zucchini)

160-200gr (about 2) onions

180gr (about 2) plum tomatoes (see Show Me)

1 Tbs fresh dill, finely chopped (optional)

1 1/2 tsp salt, coarse

1 tsp oregano, dried

75ml (5 Tbs) olive oil, good quality

120ml (1/2 cup) hot water

1 Tbs harissa or 2 Tbs tomato paste (puree in UK)

Show me more ideas and suggestions

I use plum tomatoes because they have less water than regular ones. I also only quarter them, not chop them, so as to keep them in larger pieces. You can omit them, or substitute with about 50gr of roughly chopped sundried tomatoes which also suit this dish perfectly. (50gr is about 3-4 tomato halves, I use the ones packed in oil)

Step 1

Put the potatoes in the bottom of the slow cooker, halving any large ones. Cut the carrots and courgettes into thick slices or chunks and add to the pot. Quarter the onions and the tomatoes, and add those too. You don’t need to mix at this stage.

Step 2

Sprinkle the dill, salt and oregano over the vegetables. Pour the olive oil over the top. Mix the paste into the hot water till dissolved and pour over the veggies.

Step 3

Cook on low for about 9 hours or until the potatoes are soft and have taken a reddish hue. Your veg might seem fully cooked earlier, but it’s important to leave it until it sort of caramelises and becomes nice and shiny and dark in colour. To start with, there won’t be much liquid in the pot so it’s a good idea to stir after the first few hours and then again towards the end of cooking.

Step 4

Serve with lots of fresh crusty bread and feta cheese. It’s also nice with Greek yoghurt. Check this post for other ideas on what to do with your leftovers.

Notes:
-The weight of the vegetables mentioned is after prep. I generally don’t like giving numbers of veggies as measurements, because one medium zucchini in the States might be double in size compared to one medium zucchini in Greece. Or an organic carrot might be a third of the size of a regular one even in the same country. So try and go by weight, even though I’ve mentioned the quantity of ingredients I myself used.
-You may think this recipe has a lot of oil. Well, it might indeed be a lot when you consider that you don’t need any when cooking in a slow cooker. However, this is a Greek dish that is traditionally cooked in a lot of olive oil, and trust me it does make all the difference in taste and texture when converted to a crockpot recipe.  Without it the dish is quite bland, so please don’t skimp on it.

6 ratings, avg : 4.83

So, what do you think? Leave me a comment!

No comments yet