Posts Tagged ‘Greek oven roasted vegetables’

Greek Oven Roasted Vegetables

Growing up, our summer supper table was often laden with vegetarian wonders that grew from my grandmother’s green thumb, flavored with homegrown, dried herbs.

Produce was also purchased on grand expedition to a fruit and vegetable market in Melrose Park. Tom Naples Fruits and Vegetables – a precursor to today’s popular farmers markets – was a seasonal sensation of people and produce.

Plums and peaches, cucumbers and onions were tossed into the shopping cart, whose wheel always seemed to want to go south while being pushed north. Yia Yia waited all year for the figs to be available at Tom Naples. A treat beyond words for this woman I loved who left Greece at the age of 17, never to return or see her mother again. How I remember her opening the first fig each summer with the impatience of a six year old tearing the wrapper off of a Hershey’s bar. She would put it in her mouth and work it around her false teeth, a smile to warm the heavens if the fig were ripe enough. Yia Yia would work that box of figs and – pay for it dearly the next day with a stomach ache.

Yia Yia grew her own tomatoes and zucchini, convincing me of her magical powers as the size of the zucchini grew larger and longer overnight. Not all of the zucchini made it to adulthood, however. She picked the blossoms off and stuffed them. There was a vendor selling zucchini blossoms at the farmers market on Saturday – to the tune of $5 a bunch!

One of my favorite meals was briami. Greek vegetable stew. You can ask any Greek woman how to make it, and she will try to explain, hemming and hawing, not to avoid giving you to the recipe, but because each woman makes it differently than another and often differently herself. Such is the case with me. While we had it at other times of the year, it was in summertime, when the string beans and zucchini were plentiful, that we had it most often. When some of you asked for the recipe, I hemmed and hawed myself, for I have no measurements. My Aunt Christina told me how to make briami one summer day when I telephoned her and asked her for the recipe. Now decades past, I’ve adapted it to what is on hand.

So, dear reader, here it is; imprecise and unmeasured. The thing about briami is that you really can’t ruin it.

Here goes:

Diced onion

String beans (a few good handfuls, ends taken off and snapped at the center)

4 zucchini (sliced)

4 potatoes (cut in cubes)

1 can of tomato paste, diluted with water

Salt and pepper to taste

Dried oregano

Mint flakes

Brown onion in olive oil until translucent. Place in baking pan.

Add vegetables, tomato paste, seasonings. Mix all together in pan.

Cover and cook in 375° oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until vegetables are tender.

Serve with a loaf of crusty bread.

You can add minced garlic or garlic powder. You can also parboil the beans and potatoes. I actually used up some new potatoes that I had boiled for supper a few days beforehand. Some serve this with a hunk of Greek cheese, such as feta. You can also use tomato sauce instead of the paste – or fresh tomatoes. Many, like myself, like to use the bread to sop up the juices. This is also great warmed up the next day when the flavors have a change to mellow.



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