After a weekend of pizza, steaks, casseroles heavy with cheese and dinners out, Meatless Monday sure does creep up fast. The entire family, that would be the three of us!, worked at the Greek festival all weekend so when the week started, needless to say, the cupboards were bare. And after grabbing a bite here and there of pita and hummus, flaming Greek cheese and sausage, baklava, feta fries and tender bits of lamb, a clean but healthful dinner was desperately needed. When I say “clean” I mean little or no dairy, no heavy sauces and no frying. Clean eating doesn’t sentence one to a lifetime of salads. On the contrary, the Greek diet is mostly plant-based but the beauty is the brilliant twist the Greeks give their vegetables. A stick of cinnamon thrown in here, a squeeze of fresh lemon there, elevate the humble dishes to celebrity status. Smoky, roasted eggplant can be fused with walnuts, garlic and lemon juice yielding a creamy dip that will knock your socks off. What I love about this dish of stewed, roasted vegetable is you don’t need to really follow the recipe. There is a long, and I mean loooong, list of ingredients that work together magnificently and still offer a rib-sticking meal. Most of the vegetables are interchangeable so feel free to throw in a bag of green beans if you’re out of zucchini. Canned whole tomatoes are fine if you have no fresh ones. When I prepared this dish this week I had forgotten fresh mint, dill and flat leaf parsley at the grocery store. We’re in high season here in South Florida. Every tourist and his brother is out joy ridin’ and if you think I was going out in that snarl of 5:00 traffic you’ve got another thing coming. And I LOVE fresh mint in my Tourlou. I had on hand, though, dried dill and a big ol’ bush of oregano. This is also the ideal dish for out of season vegetables such as tomatoes. Roasting them brings out flavors the tomatoes didn’t even know they had.
Roasted Vegetable Greek Stew or Tourlou Tourlou
If you want to be creative this is the recipe for you. My recipe is just a guideline and what works for me. Mushrooms, peas…I guess the point I’m trying to make is roast whichever vegetables you enjoy. My vegetable stew came out positively gorgeous, I mean, just look at the photos! It was warm and satisfying, so good in fact, I didn’t even want the usual topping of crumbled Greek feta cheese. I served the dish with a chunk of crusty French bread, absolutely necessary to sop up the exquisite bend of juices from the onions, garlic, tomatoes and olive oil. And although it may be juvenile and straight out of the nursery, I’m 100% guilty of using my fork to crush a few random pieces of potato to then mix in the fragrant olive oil and juices. Oh, yes! Heaven on a plate.
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1 large onion, halved and sliced
- 1 large head garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 large bell pepper, halved and cut into strips
- 1 large eggplant, cut into 1 1/2″ pieces
- 1 1/2 pounds zucchini, cut into 1/2″ rounds
- 4 carrots, cut into 1/4″ rounds
- 3 pounds tomatoes, each tomato cut into eighths
- 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2″ pieces
- 1/2 cup fresh mint, leaves chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped or 1 heaping tablespoon dried
- 1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon each salt and pepper
- Greek feta cheese, crumbled, optional
- Pre-heat oven to 350°.
- Cover an extra-large roasting pan or casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray making certain to cover all of the bottom and sides of the pan.
- If your roasting vessel is glass or not stove-top safe, use a pan for this next step. If your roasting pan is metal and stove top safe the entire dish maybe prepared in the roasting pan. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in the roasting pan or skillet.
- Add the onion slices cook until soft, stirring often.
- Add the garlic and continue stirring. Take care that the garlic doesn’t burn. If using a pan transfer this mixture to the sprayed roasting dish. If onion mixture cooked in the roasting pan, turn off heat but leave stove top.
- Add all remaining ingredients except feta cheese, stirring between additions. Make certain all ingredients are evenly coated with olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper and any pan juices.
- Cover tightly with tin foil and bake for one hour.
- Carefully remove tin foil, stir vegetables and continue to bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes.
- If using feta cheese scatter one or two tablespoons over each plate.
- Serve with crunchy bread.