Mixed-Up Veggies (Tourlou Tourlou)

Tourlou Tourlou* (pronounced Toodloo Toodloo) is a baked vegetable dish with a suprising sweetness. I kind of don’t want to reveal the source of the sweetness, because it comes from an ingredient many people think they don’t like. I’ve even been asked if the dish has sugar in it, but the “sugar” comes from a vegetable, one that most Americans have only ever tasted undercooked. Undercooked, this vegetable has all the taste and texture of a sponge. But cooked well, this particular vegetable melts down into a creamy sweetness. It practically turns into honey. Which vegetable is it? Go ahead and look over the ingredients, I’ll give you a minute.

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Ingredients (Amounts are approximate, so suit yourself!)

3-4 zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
3-4 banana or anaheim peppers, seeds removed, sliced 1/4 inch thick (probably equivalent to 1 or 2 bell peppers if you’d rather use those)
3 onions, quartered lengthwise and sliced
6 cloves garlic, sliced
3 large tomatoes, diced (about 1 to 1.5 pounds) or one 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes including the juice
1 bunch parsley, washed and chopped
1 large eggplant. sliced 1/4 inch thick (or a few little eggplants, about 1 – 1.5 pounds)
3 potatoes (approx. 1 – 1.5 lbs), peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

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If you guessed it’s the onions, you get partial credit for picking a vegetable that turns sweet when cooked. But that’s not the correct answer. So, which vegetable is it that turns from a dry, tasteless sponge into a honeyed creamy substance? It’s the eggplant! Yes, the eggplant!

*Tourlou Tourlou means “mixed-up.”

You don’t actually have to peel the eggplant, but Mama always takes off some strips vertically to ensure that nobody gets a big piece of skin.

Eggplant with some skin peeled off.

Pour about 3/4 cup of the oil into the pan, enough to coat the bottom well. Add the potatoes.

Sliced potatoes in oil.

Add the eggplant.

Add eggplant.

Layer in the peppers and zucchini.

Add peppers.

Add zucchini.

Sprinkle with onions and garlic.

Add onions and garlic.

Top with tomatoes and then the parsley.

Top with tomatoes and parsley.

Sprinkle with the salt and pepper, then the remainder of the oil. If you used fresh rather than canned tomatoes, pour in a 1/2 cup of water. Put in a 450 degree oven and bake for 20 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 400 degrees, and cook for about one hour. 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 1/4 to 1/2 cup more water. (Mama says you can be adding V8 or tomato juice if you prefer.)

The Tourlou Tourlou is ready.

About 1/2 an hour before it’s going to come out of the oven, gently stir it up a bit, to get the by-now-crispy parsley down into the moister areas to soften up and flavor the juices. How can you tell when the Tourlou Tourlou is done? When the potatoes and eggplant are very soft, it’s done! Mama also likes to run it under the broiler for about 5 minutes at this point, but that is an optional step.

32 Comments »

  1. Comment by Ivy

    Hi lulu, you are right my first guess was onions. I didn’t know that the eggplant gives a sweet taste to the food. This dish is also called Briam and we use the phrase “tourlou tourlou” when we want to say that something is mixed up.

  2. Comment by lulu

    That’s what I forgot to put in the post! Thanks for reminding me, Ivy, I’m going to update the title to reflect that!

  3. Comment by Peter

    Eggplant is great like that isn’t it? Tourlou is a staple in each Greek home and it’s just as good room temp!

  4. Comment by lulu

    Yup! In fact, I’m eating room temperature Tourlou Tourlou even as I type.

  5. Comment by Cheryl

    I love this dish. I’ve been wanting to make it-but I’m still the only one that really enjoys it. I’ve also made it with melting some kaseri over the top right before it’s ready to come out of the oven. Makes my mouth water!

  6. Comment by lulu

    Hi Cheryl! Melted cheese on top sounds delicious. It amazes me how people can resist really well-cooked veggies. With my nieces we have to literally puree vegetables to get them to eat them. Not that I was much of a vegetable eater myself as a child…

  7. Comment by Laurie Constantino

    Glad to see you’ve joined Peter and I in making briam – it must have been the week for it!

  8. Comment by lulu

    I was totally laughing when I saw we’d all done it the same week. Posting this has actually been hanging over my head for close to a year. I brought some Tourlou Tourlou to a meeting at work and people wanted the recipe, so I said I’d put it up here. But then I realized my notes weren’t so great, and what with one thing and another, this is how long it took me to get back to it.

  9. Comment by hoca

    “tourlou” is Turkish, meaning a mix of many things/kinds. Simple origin: Mama goes out in the garden and gathers some of what is ready and ripe; a bit of this, a bit of that. Cook in pot with oil/onion/garlic. Serve with crusty bread, salad if you want and feta if you got. Perfect summer lunch best eaten outside under a tree and before a nap.

  10. Comment by lulu

    Thanks for visiting, hoca! Your serving suggestions sound perfect, especially the nap!

  11. Comment by Andrea

    Well, Lulu, I made a huge quantity of this as part of a brunch menu, and when I saw the finished results I thought I’d be eating leftovers all week. But, nope. It was devoured by an appreciative crowd. I felt like such a good cook, but really in my heart I was thanking you for posting such a winning recipe! I did make it with about half the oil, but it still turned out great. I also made Greek cabbage salad. Yum.

    Andrea’s last blog post..Lemon-syrup soaked hazelnut cake

  12. Comment by Lulu

    Hi Andrea! I’m glad they liked it. Every time I make it I thank Mama in my heart not just for giving me the recipe, but for making it for me before I knew enough to appreciate it. She told me what was in it, and I was, let’s say, underwhelmed by the idea…until I actually tasted it!

  13. Comment by Paula

    Hi Lulu! I’m so happy to see this on your blog; I’ve missed your posts! I hope you are well. What a terrific dish! I love every aspect of this dish from the potatoes to the semi peeled eggplant (genius idea on the peeling) to the banana peppers. What I really like, though, is that this is baked! Now that the weather is cooler, I really like using the oven. I’m grocery shopping tomorrow … guess what I’ll be getting in the veggie isle? YUM!

    Paula’s last blog post..Great Scot! Scottish Savory Oat Stuffing That Is!

  14. Comment by Majosée

    Hello, Just wanted to add my comments to this exceptionnal dish….
    I have a daughter who lives and is raising her family in Greece along with a greek husband !!!
    On our first visit she served this delicious
    recipe and I have been enjoying it here at home also. We always smile when we see and
    read about a greek recipe. It always start
    with “a cup of oil” ! I have added an ingredient to this recipe for my taste: slices of rutabaga (kind of turnip, here in Canada). My son-in-law thinks this is scandalous ! I have served it also to friends and all have appreciated it and taken the recipe.
    I congratulate you on this super blog. I will keep it in my favorites and come to visit you more often. It will bring me closer to my daughter ! I like your approach of the description of the recipe and your comments on its ingredients….!!! Take care and thank you. Mj 241108

  15. Comment by Majosée

    Oh ! It’s me again….
    I forgot to tell you that at the supermarket in Greece, I have bought a big Tourlou pan (with “antiadhesive”) when I was visiting. And also my daughter brought one over, this one is in stainless, very very nice.

    And I meant to tell you that I add young “new” potatoes in spring, I keep them with the skin on and they are just wonderful in this dish.

    It is becoming, at least to me, as a kind of
    “comfort food”…. Again, thank you for sharing this nice recipe with your readers.
    Mj 241108

  16. Comment by Chas

    Thanks for the recipe! Sounds very good, I will try it tonight.

  17. Comment by Lulu

    Hi Chas! I hope you like it!

  18. Comment by Anastasia E. Weaver

    I tremendously enjoyed this web page and your recipe was fun to read. I just wanted to share that my Mom also used 1 lb of green beans cut in thirds, 1 lb of shell beans, shelled, Celery leves, chopped up 2 green peppers cut in slices, 1 lb of okra and 1 lb of squash blossoms (if available). She got them out of her garden along with most of the vegetables except the potatoes and only cooked them on top of the stove and not in the oven. I remember this dish so well as a youngster and grown-up and I have finally succeeded in replicate her recipe just recently and now I come upon your recipe! Thank you! It has brought back many fond memories!! Anastasia

  19. Comment by Anastasia E. Weaver

    P.s. It is me again! She also included something called Vlita or Blight in English. Which I have still not found in any market in the Chicago land area.

    Anastasia

  20. Comment by Anastasia E. Weaver

    I really did not want to misinform anyone but Vlita grows abundantly in Greece. It tastes similar to spinach and excellent as a green like dandeloin with olive oil and lemon. I did not mean to misinform with the word blight because there is an herb that is similar to vlita. In Italy they tell me it is a weed that can be picked and also grows abundantly there.

  21. Comment by Lulu

    Hi Anastasia! Thanks for the recipe! About vlita, I think it grows abundantly everywhere, whether one wants it or not! In English it’s usually called amaranth. Most people don’t know it’s edible.

  22. Comment by Stamatia

    Lulu – do we need to salt the eggplant to draw the bitterness out? I haven’t cooked with eggplant yet myself (I grew up in a household where we didn’t eat it, unless we had moussaka), but I’ve read somewhere to do that. Is it worth the bother?

  23. Comment by pavlo

    same question as stamatia number 22

  24. Comment by Lulu

    Hi Stamatia and Pavlo! It is not necessary to salt the eggplant for this recipe. It will come out very sweet without salting.

  25. Comment by Charles Ryburn

    ????????? ????. I was trying to think of something new to have for dinner and remembered my ??????’s tourlou. Being from Turkey, they called it tourlou youvetsi since it was made in the oven. I didn’t expect to find anything on the google search, but there you were. I’m making it now, and it smells ?? ?? ??????? ??? ?????? ???.

    ???? ?????????

    Charles

  26. Comment by Charles Ryburn

    By the way, the ?????s are when I typed in Greek. Apparently there’s no translator here. I was talking about my yaya’s tourlou and while cooking it smells like my yaya’s kitchen.

    Thanks much,

  27. Comment by Lucy

    I assume we cover the pan while baking?

  28. Comment by Susan Silberman

    Ahhhhhhh. it brought me back to Buenos Aires, many moons ago!!!!!!!!!!

    My Mom ,(been always in the quest of culinary adventures!) used to add peaches and some pears too!I don’t remember if she added corn, I’m so hungry!!!!!!!Thanks for the memories! THANKS!

  29. Comment by PROF RIDAS SMAOL

    tourlou a verry good foud .. thanks

  30. Comment by s. lukos

    if you eat it w/ feta, you’re a true greek, even if your name doesn’t end w/ -opoulos or -ides.

  31. Comment by Julie

    I’ve had this dish a couple of times in a local restaurant and I think it’s wonderful!! So does my husband and he claims to not like eggplant! One quick question – they use chickpeas but no potatoes. Have you tried that? Would you add the chickpeas to the bottom of the pan like the potatoes or would the eggplant go down first? Can’t wait to try it. Thank you!

  32. Pingback by Season’s Eatings: Les Miz, McLent, and Hollywood’s Latest (Imaginary) Diet Craze

    […] year, I’m able to dig in to the chickpeas and the tourlou with everyone else. And I plan to enjoy it while it […]

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