Slow Cooker Harissa Briam (Greek Ratatouille) – The Foodie Corner
A traditional Greek summer dish with two twists. It’s made in the slow cooker virtually effortlessly, and it’s mixed with harissa to give it a little kick! Definitely a gatekeeper, especially when we have more zucchini than we know what to do with them.
You might already know Briam, whether it’s summer vacation in Greece, or Greek friends in your corner of the world, or even from my own post about how it brings you childhood summer memories. It’s basically a ratatouille version. Here, the most commonly used vegetables are zucchini (zucchini), eggplants (eggplant) and potatoes. Many people also use green (or even red peppers today), carrots, and herbs. Briam always has onions, often garlic, and usually tomato (mostly grated fresh, as it is a summer dish). All this delicacy is poured into plenty of olive oil and roasted slowly until smooth and caramelized.
My version has been adapted to work in the slow cooker. To begin with, all my attempts were missing something. Until the last two experiments. The problems I had had to do mainly with eggplants and tomatoes, so I skipped the first and turned to pasta to give it a little flavor without the watery results of the second. Fresh tomatoes have a very high water content, so they were turning my briam into a soft vegetable soup. Of course, you can make briam without tomato, that’s allowed, but specifically for the slow cooker, I feel that the vegetables need some rich and tasty redness. The more concentrated the tomato, the thicker it gets in the cooking pot, so I gave pasta a try. It worked brilliantly. If you’re reading from the UK, keep in mind that it’s tomato puree (it’s called pasta in the US).
The other day, while I was making a final test batch of briam (just to check the recipe and measurements three times), I opened the fridge and realized I had run out of tomato paste. Oh the horror! While scanning the shelves (“…but I’m sure I had something somewhere!”) My eye fell on a small jar of Harissa. Harissa is a Tunisian paste made from a variety of red peppers, spices, herbs and garlic. It looks a lot like tomato paste, but of course it’s much spicier! It took me almost a second to decide that I would try that instead. The gentleman doesn’t eat briam, so making it spicy was fine, as I’d be eating it all myself anyway!
result? Delicious. Both tomato paste and harissa are great choices, it just depends on whether you want a more classic approach to a traditional Greek dish or want to give it an exotic twist. I say, try both ways! It is a bright, healthy and tasty dish, ideal for meatless Mondays or vegetarian and vegan diets. How do you serve it? With lots of fresh bread and lots (and lots of) feta cheese (ok, that’s not for vegans). Come to think of it, Briam would also be a great side dish. Oh, and one last thing… If you live in a hot place, try your cold leftovers from the fridge the next day!