I have an awkward history with eggplant ☺. My experience has been that people assume if you’re vegetarian (or vegan) you like eggplant given its inherent meaty texture. Incidentally I never grew up eating eggplant (then again who did in the ‘80s 😆) so it was deemed a foreign vegetable in my mind. In fact, my first experience with eggplant was during a lunch event at work around 10 years ago. My boss – raised in a very traditional Italian household — brought in homemade eggplant parmigiana his lovely wife Maria had made. “You’ll love this Meagan….it’s vegetarian!” he proclaimed. I tried the dish as a token of my appreciation but I remember trying to discreetly stuff eggplant ‘bits’ in my napkin as I worked through my helping. The texture was what I call the ‘terrible triad’ of chewy, stringy and watery. Since that first experience with eggplant it was essentially blacklisted from my culinary toolbox. Fast forward a decade or so later and eggplant is now a staple on my farmer’s market shopping list. Today I’m thrilled to share my first Vegan Rhapsody recipe featuring the lovely ‘rediscovered’ eggplant: eggplant is now a staple on my farmer’s market shopping list. Today I’m thrilled to share my first Vegan Rhapsody recipe featuring the lovely ‘rediscovered’ eggplant: Mediterranean Style Roasted Vegetables (Briam).
Since eggplant has not been on my radar for over a decade I was cautiously optimistic when Janik’s brother served Briam for Christmas dinner. Briam, if you’re not familiar with it, is a Mediterranean-inspired dish with roasted potatoes, aubergines and zucchini in a fresh tomato sauce and garnished with Mediterranean spices. The simplicity is in part, what makes this dish so appealing. You can switch up the medley of vegetables and whether you julienne, chop or slice the vegetables used but as long as you have a killer tomato sauce you’re set 🙂. Speaking of sauce Janik and I made our first purchase of vegan white wine specifically for testing this recipe. It doesn’t need to be expensive but a dry white wine, paired with a quality (organic) tomato sauce, will serve you well in making this dish (Tip: You could also experiment using white wine vinegar as a substitute for wine). JF didn’t follow a recipe per say but his adaptation of Briam was spectacular and I didn’t mind the eggplant one bit 😌.
My two biggest tips for making Briam:
1/Take your time to pan-fry the eggplant rounds until crispy and golden brown. It also doesn’t hurt to be generous with the Himalayan pink salt at this stage). 2/Use fresh herbs: Briam is very versatile when it comes to the mix of herbs used but I strongly recommend using at least two different fresh herbs. I used fresh parsley and fresh dill in my test kitchen but fresh mint or oregano would also work well.
Never underestimate trying new ‘old’ foods! It turns out I love pan-fried eggplant so much that I plan to explore incorporating eggplant into more upcoming recipes. With minimum prep time required and staple ingredients, this Briam recipe is a perfect weeknight meal. Paired with a soup or fresh bread to soak up the lovely tomato sauce it’s deliciously simple.
- 1/Cut potatoes, eggplant and zucchini into thin rounds [I left skin intact during testing of this recipe]
- 2/Cut tomatoes into thin slices.
- 3/Pan fry thinly sliced eggplant on medium-high heat using olive oil and Himalayan pink salt. Fry until crispy and golden brown; set aside.
- 4/Preheat oven to 425F.
- 4 large potatoes (350g)
- 1 eggplant (400g)
- 1 zucchini (440g)
- Ripe tomatoes, unpeeled (475g)
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled (10g)
- 2 Tbsp fresh parsley (5g)
- 2 Tbsp fresh dill (5g)
- 1/2 tsp dried basil (<5g)
- Olive oil (50g)
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced (90g)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (170g)
- 2 cups tomato sauce (480g)
- 2/3 cup water (170g)
- Few pinches Himalayan pink salt
- Few pinches of dried parsley
- Few pinches of dried basil
- Few pinches of dried dill weed
- Cherry tomatoes, halved (165g)
- 1/Add garlic, fresh parsley, fresh dill and dried basil to your Thermomix mixing bowl. Chop 5 sec/Speed 7. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl.
- 2/Add olive oil and red onion. Sauté 3 min/120C/Speed 1. Once again, scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl.
- 3/Add white wine, tomato sauce and water to the TM bowl. Cook 2 min/100C/Speed 1.
- 4/Replace mixing bowl lid with simmering basket. Cook 5 min/85C/Speed 1 (to let mixture simmer). Your sauce is now ready~
- 1/Layer the bottom of pre-greased baking dish with approx. half the potato slices.
- 2/Layer roughly half the tomato slices on top of the potato layer.
- 3/Layer approx. half the zucchini slices on top of the tomato layer. Season lightly with salt, dried parsley, dried basil and dried dill weed. Cover with roughly half the prepared tomato-wine sauce from the Thermomix mixing bowl.
- 4/Repeat above (layer remaining half of potato slices, tomato slices and zucchini slices). Season lightly with salt, dried parsley, dried basil and dried dill weed.
- 5/Toss cherry tomatoes on top of zucchini layer; top with pan fried eggplant slices.
- 6/Cover the eggplant player with the remaining tomato-wine sauce (from the Thermomix mixing bowl). Finish with a few pinches of salt.
- 7/Bake at 425F for 1 hour or until the vegetables are tender. The sauce will bubble when the dish is fully cooked.
Note: This recipe was made using a Thermomix appliance; however, it can easily be adapted using similar food prep tools (e.g. multi-function processor, immersion blender etc).