Soufico (Ikarian Eggplant-Tomato Casserole)
Soufico is considered a national dish of the Greek island of Ikaria, the island where it’s set people ‘forget to die.’ This stew is quite similar to France’s ratatouille but it’s decidedly Greek in flavor. Although the island is just under 100 square miles, each region of the island — from the north to the south — has their own rendition of these tasty stew. Chef Diane Kochilas, an award-winning chef, TV personality, and cookbook author, shares her version of soufico here. Want to learn more fabulous and seasonal Greek dishes? Come visit her during our Culinary Secrets to a Longer Life with Diane Kochilas cooking vacation.
* Olive oil (for brushing)
* 2 medium eggplants, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
* Salt, to taste
* 2 large green bell peppers/capsicums, seeded and cut into 1 inch strips
* 4 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
* 3 large onions, finely chopped
* 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
* 2 large potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
* 1/2 cup extra virgin Greek olive oil
* 3 large, firm ripe tomatoes, grated
* 6-12 zucchini blossoms (optional)
* 4-5 tbsp fresh oregano leaves
1. In separate colanders, salt the eggplant, zucchini, and peppers. Allow all of them to drain for an hour. Wipe them dry without washing them.
2. Preheat the grill. Brush all the eggplant, zucchini, and peppers with olive oil, and grill until they soften. Basically there shouldn’t be very much color on the vegetables.
3. Next, lightly sautee the garlic and onions until it wilts. This should take about 6 to 7 minutes.
4. Remove the garlic and onions with a slotted spoon, and reserve. Replenish the oil in the frying pan, if necessary. To the pan, add the potato slices, and fry lightly until their edges begin to color.
5. Oil a large oven-proof casserole or Dutch oven. Spread 2 tablespoons of onions and garlic on the bottom. Then mix in 2 tablespoons of the grated tomato. Season with a bit of salt and pepper.
6. Add a single layer of potatoes over the bottom, on top of the tomato-onion mixture. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
7. Then, in this order, spread the peppers, more onion-garlic-tomatoes, a bit of fresh oregano, salt and pepper, eggplant, more onion-garlic-tomatoes, salt, pepper, and oregano. Then the zucchini, onion-garlic mixture, and another dash of salt and pepper. As you layer, season lightly, and press down with a spatula so that the vegetables are layered compactly.
8. Continue to layer the dish until all the vegetables are used. Reserve the zucchini blossoms and about half of a cup of tomatoes and onion mixture to be used last. Spread these decoratively on the surface.
9. The soufico needs to be cooked further at this point, and you can do it either by covering and baking in a preheated oven at 350°F for about 35 minutes, until its soft and almost caramelized, or on top of the stove over low heat and covered.