This oil free Briam: roasted veggie casserole recipe takes a healthy twist on the traditional Greek dish without sacrificing an ounce of flavor. This is the ultimate one-pot veggie stew you’ve been waiting for.
About that healthy twist
My oil free Briam: roasted veggie casserole breaks from tradition in one specific way. Traditional Greek Briam is made with oil – a lot of oil. I've modified all my Greek recipes including baked beans and Greek flatbread pizzas to name a few. One principle to consider when following a whole food, plant-based diet is the elimination of oil. I won’t be going into any great detail here, but there are numerous reasons why oil is not a healthful friend.
Oil facts for considerations
Oil is a super-processed food. This means that any nutritional value (even from those olives) has been lost and all that’s left are big spoonfuls of pure, 100% fat. That 100% fat negatively impacts our all-important endothelial cells that are critical to our cardiovascular system. Besides, who needs those extra, empty calories covering up the amazing flavor of Briam?
Fill it to the brim
One of the many things I love about Briam is the wide variety of veggies options it offers. I always use potatoes and zucchini, but a lot of folks like eggplant (aborigine). Green peppers add color, but you can sweeten it up with red peppers, or mix it up and use one of each. I used yellow onions – red will give you a sweeter flavor. Carrots are also a great addition, but green beans are good too. My point – use up some of what you have hanging around.
Fill up on rich, thick sauce
The sauce for this delicious casserole is basic and easy. We’re talking fresh tomatoes, tomato sauce, fresh parsley and oregano. Plenty of all that in fact. I also mix in the minced garlic and small diced celery just to make the mixing everything in a bit easier. Oh, and let’s ramp it up with something special…
Yep, that would be Ouzo the Greek national drink. Just a few tablespoons give this stew a very subtle taste of anise that makes the flavor all the richer. If you are thinking to yourself “Ouzo?”, not to worry, you can use dried tarragon and get a similar flavor.
Fill the oven and the house
This is a job for the big kid casserole dish. Braim is one of those dishes that loves to spend time in the oven. A slow cook also means that you do nothing more than pile some veggies in, pour some sauce, a bit more piling, more sauce and onward until you have a nice full dish. Don’t worry about overflow into the oven (I hate that). The veggies will cook down a bit. This is also the kind of casserole that loves a next day warm up in the same pot. It just gets better and better as you go.
A complete meal
I’m not sure how the magic happens, maybe it’s the thick, slightly savory, slightly sweet sauce. Maybe it’s the combination of vegetables, slow cooking and releasing their own natural flavors and sweetness. No matter the reason, even with no oil added, you will leave the table satisfied after this one. The only addition we ever make is a bit of bread to soak up some of the sauce.
Final thoughts - Fill Yourself
Although I can list many, many benefits for eating plant-based, among the top is the fill up factor. I spent decades trying ‘diets’ and subjecting myself to the persecution of guilt over every mouthful and the internal struggle between how much I should eat and how much I wanted (or needed) to eat. Plant-based eating ended that when I learned a few simple guidelines: mostly unprocessed foods, no added oil, variety and fill up. Eat well! Peace.Print
Oil free Briam: roasted veggie casserole is healthy, plant-based magic that is as easy as it is delicious. Grab the big dish, fire up the oven, add our secret ingredient and bake to perfection.
- 5 medium potatoes, scrubbed and sliced (about 5 cups)
- 2 medium onions, skins removed, cut in half and sliced into half moons
- 2 zucchini (courgette), sliced
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced (about 2 cups)
- 2 green bell peppers, de-seeded and sliced thick or cut into chunks
- 1 stalk celery, finely diced (1/2 cup)
- 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups diced fresh tomatoes (5-6 medium tomatoes)
- 4 cups tomato sauce (tomato passata) (about 31 ounces or 2 - 500 gm cans)
- 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (more for garnish is desired)
- 2 heaping Tbsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1-2 Tbsp. Ouzo (2 tsp. dried tarragon is a good substitute)
- Preheat the oven to 4000F (2000 C).
- Prepare the potatoes (I prefer not to peel them, but that’s your call), onions, zucchini (courgette), green peppers, carrots and any other vegetables you might be using. Pile half into your casserole dish.
- Dice the tomatoes and put them in a medium bowl, add the tomato sauce, garlic, celery, chopped parsley (reserve a bit to put on the top layer if desired) and oregano. Finally, add the Ouzo or 1 tsp. dried tarragon (you can add another teaspoon if you want more anise flavor). Mix well.
- Add half the sauce to the casserole dish.
- Add another layer of vegetables, (reserve a few for the top to get crispy), add the remaining sauce. Add the rest of the veggies and finish with a bit of chopped parsley.
- Cover the dish and place it in the middle of the oven.
- Bake for at least 2 hours. After the first hour, check to ensure it isn’t getting too dry by inserting a spoon or knife to the bottom of the dish. Add water if needed. Keep baking and check after 30 minutes. If you want to crisp up the top layer of vegetables, remove the lid and bake for the final 30 minutes.
- Adjust the amounts of vegetables according to the size of your casserole dish. I made mine in a round, 10 inch by 4 inch, stove to oven pot. I’ve also made this in two smaller casserole dishes, so if you end up with too many vegetables, just make another dish.
- You can reheat Briam in the original pot you cooked it in. You may want to add ½ cup of water to keep it moist. It also be reheated in the microwave on individual plates.
- There are a few additional herbs you may want to consider as a change-up. Fresh, or a bit of dried dill or thyme compliments the dish as does a tablespoon or two of fresh mint.
- Category: Main Courses
- Cuisine: Greek
Keywords: oil free Briam: roasted veggie casserole