In Egypt, we call it ‘Awerma’. The Greeks call it ‘Briam’. In Turkey, they have ‘Turli’, and in France, it’s named ‘Ratatouille’.
No matter what you decide to call it, or which country you are in, the basic concept is the same; a medley of mixed vegetables cooked slowly in a tomato-based sauce. Sometimes, there is meat involved, but this baby is all about the veggies.
Well, this is my version. It just may be the dish that unites all these countries at last…or pisses every last one of them off at the same time…not sure.
I know I’ve already said this a million times; (spoiler alert: there shall be billions more), but I just LOVE my veggies. I love them in endless ways & shapes & forms…but if I (God forbid) had to pick only ONE way to cook vegetables for the rest of eternity, I would pick roasting. Hands down.
Roasting has this magical way of coaxing sweetness and complexity out of almost any vegetable. It intensifies & concentrates the flavour, as opposed to boiling for example, which tends to water down & dilute it. Roasting never fails to change my mind about vegetables I once believed I disliked, & never ceases to amaze me at its ease of execution and forgiving nature.
Here, I picked a vibrant bunch of my favourite vegetables, & set out on a humble mission to just let them SHINE. And it cannot possibly be simpler. You layer the veggies in an ovenproof dish, drizzling olive oil, sprinkling salt & oregano & tossing lightly as you go.
First, the mighty potatoes. I used one regular, one sweet. Then, the delightful duo; eggplant and zucchini.
Followed by the essential onions & garlic, the gorgeous juicy tomatoes and the delicate green beans
(I may have forgotten about the beans till the last second lol…whoops)
Then finally, you drizzle with a simple plain tomato puree. I get it from the supermarket in a bottle, called Passata, which is very common here in Australia. But fear not; it is just tomato puree. You can totally substitute; blend a couple of cans of tomatoes with a bit of water, use tomato juice or a simple tomato sauce, or even dissolve some tomato paste in warm water and use that. It’s all good.
You then toss ever so slightly or use a wooden spoon to half-assedly distribute the tomato sauce through the dish, drizzle more olive oil, salt & oregano.
Then, all that is left to do is to bake it in a low oven for about 45-60 min, until it is all gnarly and browned and caramelized at the edges.
It is a thing of beauty, really. Each and every one of these humble ingredients SINGS in this creation. If this dish doesn’t make you fall head-over-heels in love with vegetables, I don’t know what will!
So you can see why I really do believe that this dish has the power to bring all these countries together…but, even if it ends up infuriating multiple countries and has grandmas shaking their heads & muttering profanities at me, I say; I REGRET NOTHING.
- • 1 medium sweet potato
- • 1 medium regular potato
- • 1 small eggplant
- • 1 medium zucchini
- • 4 small (or 2 large) ripe tomatoes (preferably roma)
- • 2 medium onions, sliced
- • 4-6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- • Extra-virgin olive oil. As much as u like. (be generous!)
- • 1 small bunch fresh oregano (or 2 tsp. dried)
- • Sea salt
- • A bunch of green beans (about 250g), trimmed
- • 2 cups (about 500-600ml) tomato puree/sauce (I used passata)
- • Feta cheese to serve (optional)
- Preheat oven to 180 C
- Wash and slice your potatoes, eggplant, zucchini & tomatoes so that they are all roughly the same thickness and size (about 1cm thick). Cut the larger slices in halves or quarters. I don’t peel anything (yummier and so much more nutritious!) but feel free to do as you please.
- Grease an oven-proof dish with a bit of olive oil. I like to use my cast iron pot but any baking dish will do. Place both potatoes in first, season with a little salt and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle some oregano leaves. Toss lightly to coat.
- Repeat with the eggplant, then zucchini, onions & garlic, tomatoes & finally the green beans. Once you have got all of your veggies in the dish, pour over the tomato puree and kinda shake the dish a bit and poke around with a spoon (or use your fingers like I do) to get it all in there. Place a bunch of cherry tomatoes on the vine on top if you like for decoration.
- Finally, drizzle with a little more olive oil and a bit of salt and bake, uncovered, for 45-60min, or until the veggies are soft and tender and browned and are caramelized at the edges. You may crumble some feta cheese on top to serve for extra deliciousness.