Tourlou Tourlou (Τούρλου Τούρλου) is a baked dish of vegetables—potatoes, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes—baked in the oven with onions, parsley, garlic, black pepper and lots and lots of olive oil. It belongs to the category of "Ladera", meaning dishes prepared with an exceptionally generous amount of olive oil. A tourlou tourlou is very much like a French tian (which I posted a recipe for recently). A tourlou tourlou is also sometimes called a briam (the Greek dish that is similar to a French Ratatouille) and the terms "briam" and "tourlou tourlou" are often used interchangeably in Greece.
However, a tourlou tourlou and briam differ in that in a briam the vegetables are first cooked separately in olive oil and then combined into a glorious stew. However, a tourlou tourlou is all about the strategic layering of particular vegetables. Indeed, the order and layering of the vegetables is the real secret of success here. And when it comes to the vegetables themselves – there are again regional differences in terms of which ones are added or subtracted from the mix.
My version is my mother in law’s Zakythinthian tourlou-tourlou. No eggplants are used in this dish, but instead there are green beans and plenty of okra. You can even add a little swiss chard, called seskolo, if it takes your fancy – and it certainly does in Zakynthos, being a much loved green!
This recipe is real Greek home cooking at its best. For me, it brings back memories of summer trips to Greece. The tourlou tourlou was made before heading to the beach and the flavours were perfectly melded by the time we arrived home, ravenous from a few hours swimming.
The traditional dish used to make the tourlou tourlou, is the "tapsi" – a large, round stainless steel baking pan. First into the tapsi comes the onions, then the beans, okra and zucchini – before potatoes, capsicums, more onions and tomatoes. Freshly chopped parsley is sprinkled on each layer, along with slices of fresh garlic and plenty of salt, pepper and a good drizzling of olive oil.
This is my favourite kind of spring and summer food – and is incredibly healthy and very nutritious. Little children love the bright, colours – and they are often persuaded to wolf down a plate or two - if it is served with lots of feta.
Tourlou Tourlou (Τούρλου Τούρλου)
4 onions (a few red and brown), sliced
½ kg green beans
½ kg of okra, cleaned, soaked in vinegar and rinsed well
4 zucchini, sliced on an angle about 1/4 inch thick
3-4 small red capsicums, chopped
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and sliced
6 cloves garlic, sliced
3 -4 large tomatoes, sliced (make sure to add all the juice from the tomatoes as well)
1 bunch parsley, washed and finely chopped
3 potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 & ¼ cups of olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper to taste.
1. Pour about 1/4 cup of the oil into the pan, enough to coat the bottom well. Add the sliced onions.
2. Then add the green beans and okra. Drizzle with a little more oil (about a tablespoon), parsley, garlic slices and season.
3. Then add the zucchini slices. Again, Drizzle with a little more oil (about a tablespoon), parsley, garlic slices and season.
4. Then the sliced potatoes. Again, Drizzle with a little more oil (about a tablespoon), parsley, garlic slices and season.
5. Then the chopped capsicums. Again, Drizzle with a little more oil (about a tablespoon), parsley, garlic slices and season.
6. Then add a second layer of sliced onions.
7. Finish with a layer of the sliced tomatoes and a final drizzle of the remaining oil, parsley, garlic slices and season.
8. Cover the dish with foil and put in a 220C degree oven and bake for 20 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 160C degrees, and cook for a further one hour and a half. Check occasionally while it’s baking to make sure there’s still some liquid in the bottom of the pan. If it gets dry or starts browning on the bottom, add about 1/4 Cup of water or tomato juice if you prefer. About half an hour before the dish is ready to come out of the oven, remove the foil and give the dish a bit of a shake – but don’t stir the layers – and return to the oven. If you like you can also pop the dish under grill for about 5 minutes. Serve with some crusty, rustic bread and feta.