The New York Times describes briam as a Greek version of ratatouille. I’d say this is pretty accurate–I mean, it is the New York Times, after all, but I’d also add my opinion that Greek briam is even better than ratatouille.
Yes! I said it!
There are two major differences between Greek briam and ratatouille: one is the herbs involved and the second is the cooking method. While ratatouille relies on thyme and rosemary for flavor, briam uses parsley, oregano or marjoram. Ratatouille typically gets simmered slowly on the stovetop and Greek briam also gets the slow cooking treatment, but instead it’s in the oven.
Another ingredient that sets briam apart from ratatouille is potatoes. While I love potatoes, I’m not crazy about the texture they take on in briam so instead, I substituted cauliflower. This makes the Hello Veggie version of Greek briam low carb if you’re into that sort of thing.
Like ratatouille, this is the kind of recipe where the leftovers get better and better as they sit in the fridge. (Well, better until they go bad. You know what I mean!) Mix things up by serving your briam with rice, polenta or pureed white beans the first day, with crusty bread the second, and as a meal prep lunch if you have any leftover for a third day.
Photos by Ana Stanciu
Greek Briam with Cauliflower
Adapted from The New York Times' Greek Baked Vegetables.
- 5 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 2 medium red onions thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves sliced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with basil
- 1 small cauliflower broken into small florets
- 1 medium eggplant cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds
- 2 small zucchini cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds
- 1 green bell pepper seeded and cut into rings
- 1 yellow or orange bell pepper seeded and cut into rings
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and a pinch of salt and cook for another minute, until the garlic is fragrant. Remove from heat.
Grease a deep Dutch oven or large, deep baking dish with oil or cooking spray. Pour half of the crushed tomatoes into the bottom of the baking dish, then top with the cooked onions and garlic. Layer the cauliflower over the the onions; drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Repeat with the eggplant and zucchini, layering each vegetable and drizzling with a tablespoon of olive oil and seasoning with salt.
Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the zucchini, then layer the bell pepper rings over the sauce. Sprinkle with parsley and oregano.
Cover the baking dish with a lid or foil. Bake the briam for 1 1/2 hours, then press the vegetables down and bake for another 30 minutes uncovered, or until the vegetables are tender. Allow the briam to cool for 10 minutes or so before serving.
Ideas for serving: Serve alone as a vegetable side dish or make it a meal by serving over rice, pasta, polenta, or pureed white beans (my personal favorite). Cold leftovers are delicious spooned onto crusty bread.