GUVETCH Vegetable ragout

Guvetch / Ghiveci is a slow-cooked vegetable ragout. The most well-known version is based on aubergine/eggplant.

Origin: Romania, Turkey

Other names: France: ratatouille; Greece: briami; Romania: ghiveci, ghivech, guvech, yuvetch; Ladino: khandrajo; Turkey: kapama, turlu.

When the Turks arrived in Asia Minor, They adopted various earthenware pots, which were typically used in ancient Mediterranean cooking, to slow-cook onions, and vegetables, either over a fire or in a pit oven (tandir). This became a preferred method of Ottoman cuisine. Among these vessels was the güveç, a wide-mouthed earthenware stewing pot that was a descendant of the ancient Roman olla. When the stew is baked uncovered in an oven, it is called a guvetch. A covered baked stew is technically a turlu, Turkish for "diverse" and "varied," or kapama, from the Turkish kapamak (to cover). For covered stews, the lid of the pot was sealed with a strip of dough to keep in the moistures and flavours. A yahni, named after a Persian earhenware vessel, is a stew cooked covered over a fire. Nevertheless, many people use these terms interchangeably. Sephardim in Turkey typically cooked turlu in an oya, a Spanish squat, rounded, wide-mouth earthenware pot also descended from the Roman olla. Although an earhenware pot enhances and contributes to the flavour of the stew, it can be cooked in any ovenproof vessel.

After the Turks introduced these stews to the Balkans, guvetch quickly became a staple in Romania and Balgaria, ranking among the most popular of foods. As with most plebeian dishes, there is no definitive recipe. However, to be authentic, guvetch must contain a selection of vegetables - just a few or more than twenty - and be slow-cooked. A little water is added to uncovered stews, while no water is used when the stew is cooked covered. The contents are based upon preference, habit, and availability. 

Gil Marks, Encyclopedia of Jewish food

Ingredients:

6 - 8 servings as a side dish [pareve]

  • 1 1/2 pounds (1 large) aubergine / eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch-thick slices
  • About 2 tablespoons kosher salt or 1 tablespoon salt for sprinkling
  • 4 cups (28 ounces) peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped plum tomatoes
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound green beans or okra, trimmed
  • 4 small courgettes / zucchini or yellow squash or any combination, cut into chunks
  • 2 medium green bell peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 2 medium red bell bell peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 1 to 2 large carrots, sliced (optional)
  • 4 - 8 whole cloves garlic
  • About 1 teaspoon salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water

Instructions:

Place the aubergines / eggplant slices in a colander or on a wire rack, lightly sprinkle with the 2 tablespoons kosher salt, and let stand for about 1 hour.

Rinse the aubergine / eggplant under cold water, then press repeatedly between several layers of paper towels until it feels firm and dry. Cut into 1-inch cubes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Oil a 4-quart ovenproof dish or pot. Spread half of the tomatoes in the dish.

In a large skillet, heat 1/2 cup oil over medium-high heat. Add the aubergine / eggplant and sauté until lightly browned, about 8 mins.

Transfer the aubergine / eggplant to the prepared dish.

Drain off any oil from the pan, add 1/4 cup oil, and heat over medium heat. Add the onions and minced garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, 5-10 mins.

Spread half of the onions over the aubergine / eggplant.

Combine the green beans, courgette/ zucchini, bell peppers, carrots, and whole garlic cloves.

Transfer the vegetable mixture to the dish.

Top with the remaining onions..

Then the remaining tomatoes.

Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and sugar. Drizzle with the broth, then the remaining 1/4 cup oil.

Bake, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Serve warm, at room temperature, or slightly chilled.

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