In Autumn, hearty Greek dishes form a harmonious bridge spanning summer and winter. Many vegetables are at their peak, particularly eggplant and peppers (capsicums) and summer vegetables, such as zucchini, still linger.
I have noticed my Greek neighbour Anna, who loves Olive oil, kasseri and fetta, and fish straight from the Vic Market, cooks differently each Autumn, in keeping with the dietary restrictions of her church during Lent.
For the Greek Orthodox Lenten fasting means abstaining from foods that contain animals with red blood (meats, poultry, game) and products from animals with red blood (milk, cheese, eggs) and fish and seafood with backbones. Olive oil and wine are also restricted. The number of meals on each day is also limited. Vegetable margarine, shortening, and oils are allowed if they do not contain any dairy products and are not derived from olives.
This is a bit tough! No Olive oil or cheese? Apparently oil may be had on Saturdays and Sundays only. This dish, Briami Me Fetta, Μπριάμ με φέτα, or vegetable casserole with fetta cheese, is not in keeping with Greek Lent dishes. It includes plenty of EV Olive oil and includes a lovely topping of fetta cheese. It is similar to Ratatouille but the layering method makes for a lasagne style vegetable dish, with the potatoes and fetta adding more interest.
Briami Me Fetta – Vegetable Casserole with Fetta ( Serves 6)
- 500 g eggplants
- 500 g zucchini
- 500 g potatoes ( I use yellow fleshed ones such as Nicola or Dutch Creams)
- 1 green pepper
- 1 red pepper
- 2 or more cloves garlic, chopped finely
- 425 g can of tomatoes, chopped, undrained
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- freshly ground salt, pepper
- 2 large onions, sliced
- chopped herbs- parley, dill, oregano
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 250 gr fetta cheese, thinly sliced.
- Preheat Oven to 180c.
- Cut eggplants into thin slices. If they are fresh and young, there is no need to salt and disgorge them. If they are older, sprinkle with salt and let stand in a colander for 1/2 hour or so, then wash and squeeze dry.
- Slice the zucchini, onions, peel and slice the potatoes, seed and slice the peppers.
- Combine the garlic with the canned tomatoes, tomato paste and sugar in a bowl.
- Lightly oil a large oven dish or a heavy metal casserole, Arrange the eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, peppers in layers, seasoning as you go. Then cover with a layer of onion rings, tomato mixture and chopped herbs.
- Repeat these layers until all vegetables are used, finishing with tomato and herbs. Pour oil of the top and down the sides of the dish, cover with foil ( and a lid if using a heavy casserole) and bake until vegetables are tender or about 1 1/2 hours.
- Remove cover and place fetta on top. Bake uncovered for another 15 minutes.
Serve with one of the following: crusty bread, small pasta shapes, rice or bulgar pilaf.
This dish is even better the next day.
Based on a Tess Mallos recipe, The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook.1996
18 thoughts on “It’s all Greek to Me. Briami Me Fetta”
This will certainly be on our dinner table in the near future, the inclusion of potatoes and the feta, hello mumma! I am liking that blue casserole dish Mrs Italian, what a great colour.
Thank you Cheery Madam- hope it suits Sir Yak.
I didn’t realise Greek Orthodox Lent was so restrictive, basically just vegetables and shellfish, fascinating…. That veggie casserole look wonderful even if it doesn’t comply with the rules, I was thinking it looked like ratatouille, but the potatoes would make it quite different, thank you for a new idea!
The potatoes give it more substance and it is less ‘sloppy jo’ that a ratatouille. The cheese, lots of it, also makes it more meal like. i just stuck my spoon into the bottom of the pot as i wondered what to have for breakfast- it is very nice cold too.
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OMG it all so yummy!
Oh this looks fantastic! And I love feta .. I shall be bookmarking this one Miss 🙂
Wow that is quite a list of things that you can’t eat. I don’t know if I could resist this dish if it were presented to me! 😀
Great for using up what’s to hand I imagine. Very much like a meatless, pasta-less lasagne. I think the potato would give it a lovely depth, the fetta rounding it out.
Yummo! I’m in desperate need of vegies after 4 weeks mainly eating out! Just adding fetta to the shopping list!
are you back? Yes, I know that desperate feeling for veggies after travelling. You can never get enough.
Yes we’re home, left Welly at 6.20am, now feeling a bit discombobulated! Had a wonderful, wonderful time. Food and coffee in Wellington was phenomonal, our home swap in walking distance to everything, anyway, back to reality!
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I’m really enjoying eggplant in my dishes. I’m printing this one out. It has all the things that I love!
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I hope you enjoy it. It is also great for breakfast with an egg on top.
I do like a good briam, even outside Lent. Lent observances are often open to (mis)interpretation and can include exceptions. We were once given a plate of spam cubes with little toothpicks with our drinks at a Greek taverna during Lent. When we queried this, the owner indicated that it wasn’t meat…which I suppose is true as it did not have a backbone and possessed a tin exoskeleton, kind of like crustaceans. I think this was taking things too far, perhaps. And, no we didn’t eat the spam (for very many reasons, some of which had nothing to do with Lent). We are having a dinner later this week for Greek friends, but when travelling, they have been given dispensation to have dairy products and fish (with backbone). That is much more legitimate. I think there are also exceptions for pregnant women and those who are ill. Nevertheless, Orthodox Lent in Greece is taken very seriously.
Taken very seriously by the Greek community of inner Melbourne, where women now far outnumber men and whose cooking and cleansing of homes keeps them fit and active. Not many drive- they usually walk or tram to get their daily supplies, mostly at fresh markets. The area of Brunswick is like living in a Greek village- many of their children live a few doors away and are beneficiaries of this constant cooking. The Saturday Greek school keeps the language alive for the third and fourth generations and the Church is central to their lives ( more so for the older women). Melbourne has been known as the second biggest Greek city outside of Athens – not sure if it still has this curious claim to Greek fame.
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Although I am greek, brim is not one of my fave dishes. Maybe if my mum did put some feta on it, I would like to eat it more often lol 🙂
The fetta does add something- and this dish is much better the next day.