Janny de Moor Janny de Moor

Ratatouille with halloumi

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Serves two:*

  • 125 g peeled floury potatoes
  • 125 g eggplant in slices
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 shallots in rings
  • 1/2 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp. pitted black olives
  • 1 can of tomato puree (70 g)
  • 200 ml of water
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh oregano, marjoram or parsley
  • pepper and salt
  • 125 (yellow, green, red) bell peppers
  • 125 zucchini
  • 225 g Halloumi in small thin slices
  • handful of cherry tomatoes
  • tufts of whole herbs of your choice

“When the farmer and his family go into the field early in the morning, they only take an earthenware pot, cutlery, some condiments, bread and a jar of olive oil,” writes Theonie Diakidis-Mark, born in Rhodes, one of the 2,000 Greek islands, in Greek Island Cooking (1972). And then she describes turlú briámi. A dish prepared on a wood fire in a closed pot with fried seasonal vegetables. That looks very much the same as the briam(i) from Crete and the turly I once ate in Sakkara (Egypt), prepared in an earthenware dish called bram. Türlü is Turkish for ‘all kinds’ and also denotes a ‘ratatouille’, a word that the French cannot properly explain and which could well be a muddle of the Turkish word.

Here Chorta sto fourno – ‘vegetables from the oven’, popularly made in Cyprus. Also called Polypikilo – potpourri there, of course avoiding any reference to Turkish origins. This is one of the Cypriot versions of ratatouille. All the ingredients are grown over there and the cheese is also made on Cyprus (see also Pilav with leek and halloumi on this site). This is my version. It is authentic to place the dish in an oven at 175-200˚C for 1-2 hours.

• Place the sliced ​​potatoes in a shallow oven dish, suitable for the microwave (capacity approximately 1 liter) with 2 tablespoons of water. Put the eggplant slices on top. Cook under a hood for 6 minutes at 700 watts. Pour away moisture.

• In the meantime, heat a tablespoon of oil in a small pan, gently fry the shallots and garlic until the shallot rings become translucent; add olives, tomato puree and water. Simmer for five minutes under a lid. Season with salt and pepper and 1 tbsp. very finely chopped herb of your choice.

• Cut all other vegetables into slices, strips or rings. Mix in a bowl with potatoes, eggplant and  the tomato sauce. Ladle into the dish.

• Now place in the microwave again for 10 minutes under a hood at 700 watts.

• In the meantime, heat a grill. Take the dish from the microwave. Arrange the cheese slices upright along the edge of the dish. Sprinkle the rest of the olive oil onto the vegetables. Place the dish under the grill until the halloumi turns light brown. Garnish with halved cherry tomatoes and the remaining herbs. Delicious with toasted pitta bread.

Wine: a glass of rosé.

*For four people: double microwave time for potatoes and eggplant: 12 minutes. For the dish as a whole reckon with 15 minutes. If wanted you can cook the dish as above. Leave it to cool, reheat it for 3 minutes in the microwave at 100 watt. Then arrange the cheese  upright along the side of the dish, sprinkle the oil on it and put it under the grill until the edges of the cheese turn light brown.cheese

Menu suggestion:

Starter: Sourish lentil soup (Faki xidhati). Special for Good Friday, but considered a national dish for celebrations. For two:Place 100 g blond lentils under 750 ml cold water and cook for about 20 minutes with 25 g finely chopped spring onions, 25 g finely chopped coriander, a finely chopped lettuce heart and 1 crushed clove of garlic. Puree the soup in the blender – this is not always done, but it increases the taste. Finish with 1 tablespoon of vinegar, 2 tablespoons of Commandaria or other red dessert wine and salt and pepper. Garnish with some more coriander leaves. Sometimes 5-10 cubes of bread fried in oil are added to each soup bowl.

Dessert: fruit

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