First, a big thank you to Forumholitorium. I like this recipe so much I’ll probably make it for the rest of my life. Thank you to the Mount Athos Monks too, for developing it and sharing it.
Below is the original recipe for Vegetables In Terracotta from Mount Athos’ website. I was surprised they have a website since this 60 Minutes episode, which appears to have been published in 2011, says, “There are no newspapers, no radio, and no television on Mount Athos. There are a few telephones.” The website even sells products. Maybe things have changed. Women?
Mount Athos Vegetables In Terracotta
200 g. leeks
200 g. carrots
200 g. celery
200 g. tomatoes
200 g. peppers
200 g. eggplants
Cut the vegetables into slices, add salt, pepper and lemon. Cover the clay pot with the lid and cook the food for 60 minutes at 250 degrees.
And here’s my version, scaled down. The amounts are approximate:
Mount Athos Veg Pot
1 medium onion
1 cup leeks
2 stalks celery
2 cups tomatoes
1 cup peppers
1 cup eggplant
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 lemon
This my first attempt, a data point. I left out the ground pepper so I can taste the basic recipe. I can always add it later. I increased the tomatoes from 1 cup to 2 cups because I’m not sure how dry this will be and I didn’t want it to stick. I’m hoping the vegetables sweat down. I put it all into a 5-quart dutch oven, tossed it with salt and lemon, covered it, and began roasting.
After a half-hour I checked it. Nothing was going on. The carrots weren’t even hot yet. I increased the temperature to 280. This was looking like it might take two hours, not one.
It took 2.5 hours at 280 degrees, to my liking anyway. It probably would take just 2 hours if I started at 280 and didn’t open it every 15 minutes to check it! It’s absolutely delicious. Not what I was expecting. The eggplant and lemon give it a Greek flavor. And I was surprised but the carrot and celery worked. They were the last vegetables to soften and even in the final product they were still al dente, but they made it. Carrots added a hint of sweetness and celery added that background minty flavor.
The next time I make it I will cut the vegetables smaller, something that works on a big spoon instead of a fork, because the sauce is sooooo good! The tomatoes and other vegetables cooked down so even though I added no fluid it had a great sauce. The eggplant thickened it a bit. By the way, the eggplant skins (this was a purple globe eggplant) melt in your mouth, no need to peel.
This is a great way to use up lots of vegetables hanging out in the fridge. It was about 7 cups of raw vegetables that cooked down to 2 cups. Amazing.
Below: Raw, coarsely sliced. I’d cut the pieces smaller next time. I thought a 5-quart dutch oven was going to be too big. It wasn’t:
Into the oven. The monks probably used a wood-fired hearth. Some monasteries still don’t have electricity (no refrigerators):
After 2.5 hours. It really cooked down:
This is a 2-cup container and it holds the whole recipe:
I ate a bowl warm from the oven with bread. I also minced some and added it to leftover red lentil soup. It’s also good over warm rice.