Wednesday, 1 September 2010


The next challenge following our trip to Kenyon Hall Farm was to find a nice recipe to make use of the giant courgette we'd bought for 10p!!  To be honest thought this wasn't a difficult decision as one of our favourite dishes in the whole world (and very simple to cook) is Briam.

Briam - the original in Elounda. Served with homemade crispy bread

Briam is a Greek dish that we first tried while on holiday in Crete this year.  It is simply Vegetable Stew but all the recipes I have seen and indeed the version we had it was obviously baked - so I describe it as Baked Vegetables!

We had been on a little trip into the mountains near Elounda and visited an Olive Press (where the olive oil for this dish came from).  The guide took us to a taverna - where the host was a non-English speaking elderly Greek lady.  We were asked by the guide if we wanted food - as always we said yes.  Expecting a menu to be presented we were a little surprised to be told that today she had cooked Briam!  We shouldn't have been concerned with the lack of choice though as it turned out to be the best dish of the holiday.  Also it was rather charming that the host decided what the guests were going to eat.

Since returning we have tried a few versions - including a Rick Stein recipe that had lots of vegetables in it but it didn't quite bring back the memories of the Briam we had eaten, perhaps as it had too many ingredients.  We then set about replicating the dish we had tried in Crete.  We knew it had been baked for a long time and it was swimming in delicious Olive Oil.  Interestingly it only used 2 main ingredients: Courgette and Potato.  But I think the simplicity is the making of this dish and allows you to taste the fine olive oil.  This has been tested on Parents to critical acclaim :)

Briam - Baked Vegetables (our version)

You will need:

500g waxy baby new potatoes sliced
1 large courgette sliced
500g fresh tomatoes
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper
A ready supply of the best savoury olive oil you can find

Make the tomato sauce.  This version needs everything to be finely chopped so I used the mini chopper.  First blitz the onion and garlic and soften on a low heat in olive oil.  Blitz the tomatoes in batches and add to the onion.  Season well and add oregano.  Simmer for 20 minutes.

Using a heavy oven proof dish such as a Le Creuset and begin assembling the dish.  First build a layer of potato, then a layer of courgette.  Season well (probably more salt than you are comfortable with) and a covering of olive oil.  Then add a third of the sauce.

Continue layering up, remembering to add plenty of salt each time.  These proportions should make 2 or 3 layers with the remainder of sauce poured over the top.

It should look something like this.

Add more oil, season, cover and bake in the oven for one hour. 
Remove the lid - give it a bit of a stir and add a little water so you can just see the juices below the top layer and return UNCOVERED for a further hour.

What you should be left with is a mouthwatering dish of baked vegetables that we find can be eaten as a main with crusty bread or side dish to anything really.  Season (again) - sorry to harp on but it really needs good seasoning and serve.

This is easily one of our favourite dishes and I even have some in a tub for my tea at work tonight :)

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