Eggplants are in season in Greece from August and here in Canada, you can still find sweet (not bitter) eggplants at your local grocer or farmer’s market. Eggplant is one of the ingredients in classic vegetarian dish called Briam and the similar dish (we’re cooking today) called Tourlou. Toulou is like a ratatouille but not as stylized as the French version. The ingredients in both versions are roughly the same but I find the tossed Greek version to be tastier. All the vegetables’ flavours meld with each other and I can taste the difference.
I love Tourlou as it’s a filling vegetarian dish and it’s a good excuse to eat some bread with it – good dunking action! This Tourlou is very liberal in that you can use what veggies you have on hand but generally it’s made with onions, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and eggplant. The herbs you use can change on a whim and once again I’ve added green beans (fassolakia or runner beans) in this case.
My own extra twist today is to add some seafood into the mix – nothing extravagant and just enough to make the clams and shrimp the cherry on tourlou cake. The seafood is added towards the end and I found it to complement Tourlou very well.
Tourlou With Beans & Seafood (Τουρλου με Θαλασσινα)
1 lb. of runner beans, trimmed and washed
1/2 cup olive oil
3 medium onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 large ripe tomatoes, passed through a box grater
2 zucchini, washed and cut into 1/2 inch coins
2-3 Tsakonikes or Japanese eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch coins
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 cup chopped fresh basil
12 medium-sized shrimp
1lb. fresh mussels or clams
Pre-heated 375F oven
- Place a large skillet on your stove-top over medium heat and add the olive oil, the sliced onions and garlic and beans. Stir and saute for a couple of minutes. Add some salt and pepper and cover. Reduce the heat and allow the onions to sweat down for another 5-6 minutes or until translucent.
- Empty the the onions and beans into a casserole or baking dish (spread out evenly). Arrange your vegetables in rows: one row of sliced tomatoes, row of zucchini, row of eggplant. Repeat until your vegetables are all lined in the baking vessel.
- Finely chop your fresh parsley & thyme and place in a bowl with the zucchini, eggplant and tomato puree and toss along with a few turns of olive oil, salt and pepper. Add into the casserole dish on top of the beans, cover and place in your pre-heated oven for 1 hour.
- Remove from the oven and test to see if the vegetables are fork-tender (place back in the oven if more cooking is needed). Uncover and top with the clams or mussels and place back in the oven until they just open. Now add the shrimp and place back in the oven and bake until shrimp just turn pink.
- Remove from the oven, top with chopped fresh basil and allow to cook for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with some good crusty bread and a crisp Domaine Papayianni white.
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