Tourlou or Briam (Greek ratatouille)
Tourlou is an easy, healthful recipe for a summer lunch or dinner. It calls for all the vegetables grown in Greek gardens and is found in every region of Greece, from north to south, east to west, albeit with a number of variations and names – used in Asia Minor and the Pontus – but invariably delicious.
Whether you call it “tourlou” (which means ‘all mixed up’) or “briam“, it is usually eaten at room temperature or chilled, accompanied by a sharp feta and rustic bread or toast. You can cook it in a saucepan or in the oven. In the days before electric ovens, housewives preferred the quicker method of sauteing and simmering the vegetables on the stove top, because readying the wood-fired oven was laborious.
The following recipe took only half an hour from start to finish at the Laographic Workshop of the Municipality of Ermionida.
2 long aubergines, thickly sliced; 1 large onion, sliced; 2 medium courgettes, in 3-cm slices; 200 g. green beans; 1 medium potato, sliced like an apple; a bit of celery, coarsely chopped; 2 garlic cloves; 1 cup olive oil; 1 tomato, cut in chunks; 1 tablespoon tomato paste; 1 chilli pepper; a handful of okra;; salt and pepper.
Pour the oil into a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan and saute the onion until golden. Add the other vegetables gradually, leaving the okra till last. Add the tomato chunks and the tomato paste (diluted in a little water). Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Let the dish cool a bit and then serve accompanied with local Kranidi wine, if possible, or the wine of your choice.
Kali Orexi! Bon Appetit!