Briam is a hearty dish full of hearty Greek roasted vegetables in extra virgin olive oil goodness. It is a traditional dish with eggplants, potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes, and onions slow roasting together and developing delicious flavors.
Why this recipe sings
Briam is a roasted vegetable dish where the ingredients are the stars and truly shine. Eggplants, potatoes, zucchini, and onions are simply seasoned with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and dried oregano, then roasted for a couple of hours in a tomato-extra virgin olive oil sauce. While the veggies slow roast, their flavors mingle together perfectly and create a phenomenal dish.
Greeks enjoy briam as a main dish with lots of feta cheese and crusty bread. It can also be an awesome side dish next to grilled proteins or a roast.
Here is what you need
- Eggplant. One large eggplant or two medium ones are all you need.
- Zucchini. One large zucchini or two small ones are enough.
- Potatoes. Any potato can be used. If you go for Yukon Gold, you can leave the skin on as it is very thin and edible.
- Tomatoes. In the summer, grate a couple of juicy ripe tomatoes. The rest of the year, good quality canned tomatoes are great.
- Broth. Choose vegetable or chicken broth. If you go for the latter, the recipe will be vegan.
- Fresh herbs. Fresh oregano and thyme are ideal. Parsley will work as well.
- Onion, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and dried oregano. These basic pantry ingredients are used in almost all our recipes.
How to make it
Prepare your vegetables. Slice the zucchini and eggplant, and potatoes into coins, if the eggplant is too large, cut the eggplant coins in half.
Roughly chop the garlic and halve and slice the onion.
Add all the veggies to a large bowl (or you can use the baking pan), season with sea salt, and add half the olive oil all over. Mix gently.
Start stacking the veggies upwards in a large baking pan. Mix them together as you stack.
Place tomatoes in a bowl, crush them with your hand and add them between the vegetables. Add another generous pinch of oregano and season again with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Add the rest of the olive oil and the broth and some fresh herb sprigs between the veggies.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for an hour and thirty minutes.
Remove the cover and bake for another hour and thirty minutes.
Remove from heat, let it sit for 20 min. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
How to have perfectly roasted vegetables.
- I recommend checking the food while cooking to ensure it is done as it should. The potatoes need to be fully cooked, soft, and buttery with nice crispy edges.
- Please don’t disturb the veggies while they cook too much; the zucchini and eggplant should retain their shape.
- The sauce should not be thin and watery. In Greece, we say we want the sauce and veggies to “melosei,” which means it’s like honey. It does not literally mean the food becomes sweet. All the flavors mellow out from the herbs, tomatoes, and olive oil and are slightly sweet, savory, and delicious.
Briam is the kind of food you can’t keep your hands off. It eats well at room temperature, so you might find yourself in the kitchen more often, sneaking out a potato or dipping a piece of bread in that glorious sauce.
This is a lovely dish with the aroma of Greece and endless summers.
What baking pan to use
For this recipe, I used an oval ceramic roasting pan from Dansk with measurements 13.75″ L x 8.00″ W x 2.00″ H, 64 oz.
A medium baking pan of a similar weight capacity should work fine. It is not necessary to be oval or round; a rectangle will work just fine.
Tips and tricks
- It is absolutely ok to use the vegetables you have in your pantry. Don’t hesitate to substitute vegetables for the ones you have in your pantry. You can add sliced bell peppers, all colors, as well as yellow squash and mushrooms. Add okra or even cauliflower. It will be delicious.
- Adding vegetable broth instead of chicken makes this Briam vegan.
- If you don’t have broth, use one or two bouillon cubes diluted in warm water. If none is available, just water will do fine.
- Briam can also be cooked on the stove in a large pot. Follow the same steps apart from stacking the slices; that is unnecessary in this case. Feel free to cut the veggies differently, into medium cubes, for example. Cook in medium-low heat and keep an eye out often in case you need to adjust liquids.
- Use good quality canned tomatoes. The best are Gustarosso San Marzano DOP. They can be expensive, so they don’t fit everyone’s budget. Please feel free to use your preferred canned tomatoes.
- It is better to buy whole tomatoes in a can instead of diced. They are more versatile, and the quality is better (pre-diced tend to have lots of liquid in them, and sometimes they are not as ripe). You can use them whole, crush them, dice them, and turn them into sauce yourself.
- Mix a teaspoon of sugar or honey with crushed tomatoes before mixing with the veggies. It is not necessary to do with authentic San Marzano tomatoes.
Eat like a Greek
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Briam, the Greek ratatouille
- medium baking pan see recipe notes
- 1 large eggplant or two medium. Cut in 1/4 inch slices/coins, if diameter is too big cut the slice in half
- 2 medium zucchini cut in 1/4 inch slices/coins
- 4 potatoes medium size, cut in 1/6 inch slices
- 1 onion halved and sliced
- 14 oz tomatoes crushed.
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 5-6 garlic cloves roughly chopped
- 1 cups broth chicken or vegetable
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- fresh herbs thyme, oregano
- dried oregano
- sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- feta cheese
- fresh thyme leaves optional
- chili flakes optional
Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C
Prepare the vegetables.
- Slice the zucchini into ¼ inch slices/coins.Do the same for the eggplant. Cut in ¼ inch slices/coins; if too big, cut the slice in half. If the diameter of the slice is too large, cut the slices in half. Next, peel the potatoes and cut them into ⅙ inch slices.
- Roughly chop the garlic and slice the onion.
- Add eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, and onions to a large bowl (or use the baking pan).Season with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and a generous pinch of oregano. Add half the olive oil all over. Mix gently.
- In a baking pan, stack the vegetable slices upwards. Make groups of eggplant, zucchini, potato, and onion slices and stack. Repeat until you fill the whole pan.
- Place the crushed tomatoes, and chopped garlic into a bowl. Add a teaspoon of sugar, a tablespoon of dried oregano and some leaves from the fresh herbs, and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Mix and pour tomatoes over the stacked vegetables. With your hand, push them between the vegetables.
- Pour the rest of the olive oil and the broth on top of the vegetables—stuff fresh herb sprigs between the veggies. Cover with aluminum foil and roast for an hour and thirty minutes.
- Remove the cover and cook for another hour and a half. Check the liquids in the pan. Please see the recipe notes.Remove from heat, let it sit for 20 min, and serve with feta and crusty bread.
- Check the food towards the end of the second hour to ensure it is done to your liking. The potatoes must be fully cooked, soft, and buttery with crispy edges. The sauce should not be thin and watery. You want all the flavors to mellow out from the herbs, tomatoes, and olive oil, and are slightly sweet, savory, and delicious.
- You might need to roast for another half hour or more.
- It is important not to disturb the veggies too much while they roast; do the bare minimum, you want the zucchini and eggplant will retain their shape.
- You can add sliced bell peppers, yellow squash, and even mushrooms to the mix.
- In the summer months, take advantage of the juicy tomatoes that are filling the farmer’s markets and use them in this dish. Remember that it is preferable to use quality canned tomatoes than mediocre fresh tomatoes. I don’t mind at all using good-quality canned tomatoes. My go-to is always authentic San Marzano, like Gustarosso. Similar brands are found at Traders Joe’s, Whole Foods, and other good grocery stores. If using conventional canned tomatoes, consider mixing a teaspoon of sugar in the tomatoes to break their acidity before adding them to the food.