This is an incredible dish that we just know you are going to love. Not only is briam a luxurious way to eat your vegetables, but it is an incredibly easy way to eat them too. All the goodness is simply thrown into a roasting pan, mixed together, and baked; this makes clean-up a breeze, giving you more time to enjoy your family, your garden, or this blog.
Briam, (which our family often refers to as briami…we’ve dropped the i here, as it seems to be unusual) is sometimes referred to as tourlou-tourlou (τουρλού-τουρλού), we think perhaps because of the topsy-turvy nature of this dish. A mish-mash of chopped vegetables and herbs, tossed together with some oil and tomato sauce. No fancy plating required, or desired! Regardless of what you call it, this is a phenomenal Greek dish that epitomizes everything that is great about our cuisine; real ingredients, prepared simply, allowing their natural flavours and textures to shine. If you’ve never had briam (or briami, or tourlou-tourlou), you may be amazed at how perfect basic can be.
The list of ingredients is long, but don’t be discouraged. If you enjoy cooking even a little bit, or if you have a garden, you likely already have many of these items available.
There are many versions of briam; this is our parents’. There are definitely variations which can be made. For instance, many people add bell peppers to the mix, or eggplant. Any change could be delicious and we invite you to experiment with flavours that you love. If you have never before made briam however, we suggest sticking to the recipe which follows. See how you like it, and make adjustments from there.
Our briam is always baked in a large, round, metal roasting pan (straight from Greece). If you don’t have such a pan, don’t worry. Just be sure to use a pan which is large enough to hold all the vegetables so that they have space to spread out. If your vegetables are too crammed up in the pan, creating a thick pile of veggies, you may see that they steam rather than bake or roast. This will affect the flavour.
The fresh onions called for in this recipe were pulled straight out of our parents’ garden (awesome!). If you have access to garden onions, great! If not, you can usually find them in a well stocked grocer. If fresh onions are not available, you can substitute the same quantity of leek.
We find that celery leaves are rarely appreciated. We love that in this dish, a point is made to include the celery leaves in the mix. They provide a unique and lovely flavour, which can’t be compensated for by simply using the celery stalk. So when buying your celery, remember, look for leaves.
Briam is a great vegan meal, perfect for periods of lent, or when you want to abstain from meat. If you are eating dairy however, this meal is amazing with a side of feta. Some olives and a slice (or two, or three, of fresh bread) make this meal even more wonderful.
Mia Kouppa: Briam
- 6 small to medium sized potatoes
- 2 medium sized carrots
- 2 large zucchini
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1 cup (250 ml) chopped fresh onion (about 3), white and green parts
- 1 cup (250 ml) chopped mint
- 1 cup (250 ml) chopped parsley
- 1 celery stalk with leaves, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 1/3 cup (335 ml) tomato sauce
- 2/3 cup (170 ml) Greek olive oil
- 1 cup (250 ml) water
- 1 1/4 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
- 1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) pepper
- 3 bay leaves
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Peel potatoes and carrots, and cut them into 1 inch cubes. Place in a large roasting pan.
- Cut your zucchini into chunks (unpeeled) and add to the pan.
- Dice your yellow onion and fresh onion and add these to the pan. Add the mint, parsley, celery stalk and leaves to the pan.
- Finely chop the garlic and add this to the rest of the vegetables.
- Into the pan which now contains all the vegetables and herbs, add the tomato sauce, olive oil, and water. Mix everything together so that all the vegetables are evenly coated and combined. Season with the salt and pepper. Add the bay leaves.
- Bake your briam, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Stir carefully with a wooden spoon. Return to oven and bake for another 30 minutes. Stir again. Cook for a total of 1.5 hours, stirring every 30 minutes or so.