Mount Athos “Vegetables In Terracotta”

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

Ingredients:
3 onions
200 g. leeks
200 g. carrots
200 g. celery
200 g. tomatoes
200 g. peppers
200 g. eggplants
Salt, pepper
Lemon juice

Instructions:
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 small-to-medium onion
1 cup coarsely chopped leeks
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large, or 2 medium or small carrots
2 stalks celery
1 small zucchini
1.5 cups chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped peppers
1 cup cubed eggplant, skin removed
1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 small 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.

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.

Update, 29 April 2019: I’m now cooking this at 350 degrees F for 2 hours. I’ve added zucchini and garlic to the original recipe (I updated my ingredient list to reflect this.)

10 thoughts on “Mount Athos “Vegetables In Terracotta”

  1. Marj

    This looks fantastic! will try sooner rather than later. Combining with lentil soup would be wonderful as well. As with rice. Yes, the monastery must be updated a bit, what an interesting place to read about..

    Reply
    1. Bix Post author

      It’ll probably be my go-to way to use up vegetables.
      I like finding a new twist on ingredients I’ve used for years.

      Reply
  2. forumholitorium

    Oh, you’re very welcome! I blushed to see my pseudonym in the first line.

    If you want to learn more about the monks, check out the film Athos (a German-Greek production). I don’t know if it has been released in the U.S., but I saw it when it came out in Austria. Here’s a link to an English language description with the trailer:
    http://www.athos-film.com/
    I’d like to see it again and watch specifically what the monks eat.

    Your Mount Athos Veg Pot looks like a Greek version of a tian, tiella, or tagine – veggies cut up and roasted slowly in an earthenware dish. If I were writing a series of blog posts on the Mediterranean diet, I would look at all the “national” cuisines around the sea and identify the basic dishes that appear in the peasant cuisine of all the countries. I suspect this is one of them.

    Reply
    1. Bix Post author

      Welp, I got lost in the vacuum of You Tube watching Mount Athos monk videos. 🙂 I watched that trailer and then several after that. It’s an odd life to me in that there are no women. I guess they don’t eat eggs or dairy since they come from the female animals they don’t allow. Meat the same, because, how do they procreate? But … there are a LOT of cats. I bet there’s a female cat that snuck in.

      Reply
  3. Robert

    We made the vegetable dish tonight and enjoyed it. I think it will make the regular meal rotation.

    We also made “fasolada” which came out great:

    2 celery stalks diced
    1 carrot diced
    1 onion diced
    4 garlic cloves diced
    80g tomato paste
    1 tsp smoked paprika
    1/2 tsp chilli powder
    1.5L water
    2 vegetable bullion cubes
    4 bay leaves
    350g dried cannellini beans

    Softened the vegetables in water for 5-10 mins, then added the rest of the ingredients and brought to a boil. Simmered 2.5-3 hours until the beans were tender. I think any white bean would work. Next time, I might use a vegetable stock instead of the bullion cubes to bring down the sodium.

    Reply
    1. Bix Post author

      This sounds great. I like the dried beans and everything in the pot and then just simmer. I’m going to try navy beans, and carrots/celery/onions/garlic, and spices. I’ll leave the tomato out to keep the color light, but who knows maybe I’ll add it back in later. Maybe I’ll try it in the oven…

      Reply
  4. Dave

    If it took 2.5 hours, I am guessing you used degrees Fahrenheit. The recipe from Mount Athos was probably 250°C (a hot 482°F).
    My clay pot recipe book has a similar “Vegetables Mediterranean Style” (no celery or carrots) which bakes at 425°F for 60 minutes.

    Reply
  5. Bix Post author

    Made it again. I upped the temp to 350F but it still took 2.5 hours, But it was a LOT of vegetables. I added zucchini and garlic. Maybe I just like my veg softer. One difference was that it was drier. I think the juice that rendered from the tomatoes evaporated more. Also, there was a bit more caramelization along the sides of the pot, which added a nice flavor.

    Reply
    1. Dave

      Interesting. After posting, I made it in my clay pot at 425°F for just about an hour. (I bumped it to 450 for 15-20 minutes in the middle.) The hour starts when you put the clay pot in a cold oven – no preheating. My pot has a glazed bottom but a porous top which is well-soaked before baking. That is supposed to maintain moisture, I guess. The eggplant and peppers came from the summer garden via the deep freezer, so maybe there was some extra water from icing.
      We thought it came out quite nice and tender. Thank you for posting this one.

      Reply

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