Briam (Greek Roasted Mixed Vegetables)
Briam is basically the Greek equivalent of ratatouille. A classic end-of-summer vegetable stew packed with hearty fresh produce: tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, sweet peppers and potatoes. In this version the veggies are roasted and cooked until they have released their juices and have melted into a stewy mix. It’s simple to make and also a delicious way to empty out your crisper. Although it’s most delicious and sweet using summer’s fresh produce, it’s a dish I crave and make all year round. It can be served as a meal tossed into pasta, served over creamy Parmesan polenta as pictured - or with loads of crusty bread, or it can be served as a side. Any way you have it you will enjoy this unfussy, versatile and forgiving dish.
How to make Briam - Greek Ratatouille?
A traditional ratatouille can be a bit labor intensive - it often requires long cooking times plus timing when you add each vegetable to the pan. This version is quite simple. The first step is to prep all your veggies. I like to cut them into larger pieces not sliced thin. Second the veggies get tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and aromatics then roasted until they are caramelized and melt into a stewy mix. With the exception of a quick stir halfway through cooking, the process is pretty much hands off.
This bright and chunky vegetable stew, is rich with olive oil and fragrant with garlic and herbs. It’s a quintessential example of the Mediterranean diet. Briam makes me think of summertime entertaining, big table filled with food including a large baking dish with these perfectly roasted veggies, a big ole salad, crusty bread, lots of feta to go around, maybe something off the grill, wine and family and friends enjoying a meal outdoors, relaxed and everything served family style.
Although it’s very much is a summertime dish it can be enjoyed all year round. For me stews are typical cold weather meals so I make this in the winter too. You can also use any vegetables you like. You can stick with the combo of veggies below or add and omit as you please. I love to use fresh garden tomatoes in the summer or canned in the winter - or whatever I might have on hand. I often use grape or cherry tomatoes as they add a nice sweetness to the overall dish but you can use a combination of a variety of tomatoes.
Many recipes for briam, also known as tourlou tourlou (which appropriately literally means ‘all mixed up’ in Greek) call for roasting the vegetables with the feta or another hard cheese over them but I personally am not a fan of making it that way. I like the vegetables to roast on their own and add cheese after. But if you want to roast the veggies with the cheese by all means! It’s perfect hot right out the oven or you can eat it room temperature or even cold.
Go ahead and give it a try! It’s simple to make and so wonderfully satisfying! Besides we all could use a few more portions of veggies in a day and this would definitely take care of that!
For the Briam-Greek Ratatouille
- 1 red or yellow onion peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1 large eggplant washed, trimmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 2 zucchinis washed, trimmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 2 red, yellow or orange bell peppers washed, seeds removed and coarsely chopped
- 1 lb of tomatoes, chopped (I used cherry tomatoes but any variety is fine or 1 14 oz can of good quality whole tomatoes chopped)
- 2 small potatoes washed, and chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme (3-4 sprigs)
- ½ cup of Extra virgin olive oil
- 2-4 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp tomato paste mixed or diluted in 1/4 cup of water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup of feta to crumble over before serving
- Freshly chopped parsley and or basil for serving
For the Parmesan polenta (optional way to serve Briam):
- 4 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock
- 1 cup quick-cooking polenta
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- In a medium bowl whisk together the oil balsamic vinegar, herbs and spices. In a separate small bowl whisk together the tomato paste and water.
- Place all the veggies in a large roasting pan or baking sheet. Drizzle over the olive oil mixture and the tomatoe paste mixture. Toss well to coat them.
- Transfer to preheated oven and roast for 30 minutes, then remove and stir well. Then roast another 30-45 minutes or until the vegetables are all very tender, with caramelized edges, and the released juices are beginning to thicken. Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper as desired. Stir in basil or parsley if using and the feta.
- When the Briam is ready to come out of the oven prepare polenta if using: In a large saucepan, bring the stock to a boil over medium-high. Gradually whisk in the polenta, and season. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, whisking constantly, until the polenta is thick, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese and butter. Serve immediately. Divide the polenta among 4 bowls. Make a well in the center of each; fill with the Briam.
- If you are using a smaller roasting tin or you have doubled the amount of veggies and the pan is really loaded - it will take longer for the veggies to cook down. It can take up to 2 hours sometimes depending on how much moisture the veggies release.
- Feel free to substitute fresh tomatoes for canned ones as noted in the recipe. You can substitute the veggies listed for any veggie you like.