Ghiveci, French Ratatouille's Romanian Brother

This recipe for slow-cooked tomatoes and eggplants dish easily allows for adding seasonal vegetables to the mix.

Ghiveci is the Romanian brother of French ratatouille. It’s a slow-cooked vegetable stew that usually includes eggplants and tomatoes, evidence of a strong Ottoman influence. But unlike the refined French version, the ghiveci (or guvech, the Bulgarian twin-brother. It’s getting complicated) is rustic and much easier to make.

Since the method of preparing ghiveci is by adding one vegetable after another to the same pot and then cooking it all with tomatoes, it’s easy to add any seasonal vegetable you like. Recipes include anything from zucchini, green beans, peppers, parsnip, cauliflower and more. While some original Turkish versions call for meat, I prefer to stick to the vegetarian version. A big batch will last for five days, and is a delicious way to have your veggies.

It’s nice over couscous, rice, or with a thick slice of good bread. Or do as the Romanians do, and serve it over mamaliga.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

2 eggplants
Kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 red peppers, seeded and sliced
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2” sections
3 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2” cubes (optional)
2 zucchini, cut into 1/2” sections
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 cans chopped tomatoes, 14.5 oz each, drained
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Peel the eggplants in stripes, cut to quarters lengthwise and then to 3/4” sections. Put in a colander and salt generously. Let stand for half an hour, wash with cold water and dry with paper towels.
2. Put a large, heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and the onion and sauté until the onion is transparent. Add the eggplant and cook for another 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add red pepper and carrot and cook for another 5 minutes, then add the potato, zucchini and garlic and stir.
3. Add the drained tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir, bring to boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 45 minutes.
4. Remove the lid from the pot. Add salt and black pepper to taste and continue cooking for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasoning and serve warm, or at room temperature. 

Vered Guttman