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Nov 12, 2010 09:05 AM

Legumes "à la Grecque"

I sometimes make mushrooms à la Grecque for parties, but never understood (until today) that it was more of a technique than an indication of provenance (at least directly).

I came upon this nice-looking Turkish eggplant recipe, the introduction to which explained that "legumes à la Grecque, which are vegetables stewed with broth and oil -- originally [...] were Christian fast-day dishes given heft by oil in place of meat."

What vegetables do you prepare "à la Grecque"?

What about those prepared in that fashion, even if not called "à la Grecque"?

Can this Arabic green bean dish -- one of my faves -- be considered "à la Grecque" because of the generous oil used in the technique even though it involves no broth? In other words, does the recipe have to use broth in addition to oil?

This definition indicates that broth is not needed:
This one, too:

PS, If you want to go nuts, say (or type) "à la Grecque" too many times. ;-).

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  1. I love, love, love, love a la Grecque vegetables.
    Ever since I was introduced to the preparation during an internship in Mendocino it's been a love affair I have to visit several times a year.
    I also like to make these when I'm trying to impress boys, not that that's gotten me very far.
    The both is so simple, yet it imparts such a delicious flavor. I usually do mushrooms and pearl onions and the broth has to have celery, good olive oil, saffron and spices.
    My favorite is to make lots of pretty a la Grecque veg and then serve them with a squash souffle or salmon, with a peppery little salad.
    Think I'll have to go dig up my recipe now.

    1 Reply
    1. With oil only, and cooked down in it, would it qualify as more of a confit? Not sure myself - I do know the A La Greques I've made have involved broth or wine a/w/a oil. What do I like to stew down in a ton of oil? In order: string beans, lentils, leeks, spring onions, tomatoes, a romaine and fennel mix, asparagus (especially white, which happens once every millenium), ramps....
      Served with some great breat and a grilled slab of Halloumi. OMG. There are no words. Squeeze or two of fresh lemon, little s+p, some minced oregano.......

      1. Came across my recipe yesterday, this is from Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino. It's from the 90's though, back when Margaret Fox still owned it. It's a pretty big batch, I generally halve it.


        2 quarts water
        1 1/2 c olive oil
        lemon juice
        2 t salt
        24 ea parsley stems
        12 ea thyme sprigs
        4 ea fennel, stalks and leaves, roughly chopped
        4 ea celery ribs, roughly chopped
        2 t coriander seed
        1 t fennel seed
        1 t black pepper, cracked
        4 pinches saffron
        1/2 c shallots, chopeed

        >Combine all ingredients in 4 qt. pot. Bring to simmer and simmer gently 20 minutes. Strain through chinois.
        >Return broth to heat. Poach following 3 veg seperately, until tender. Approx 10 min each. Cool each veg and then combine.

        8 c pearl onions, peeled
        8 c mushrooms, quartered
        8 c artichoke hearts, halved or quartered (I use small baby ones)

        Those are my notes from 1997, it all pretty much sounds like what I still do, and you could even quarter the recipe, obviously, and mix up the poached veg.
        I usually serve the Grecque veg with a nice assortment of favas, peas, halved cherry tomatoes, whatever you like really. Toss them together at the last minute and serve them with salmon on a bed of farrro or quinoa, ladle some broth over and it truly is delicious. Great in the Spring.
        CB used to serve them with a squash flan and garden lettuces. Not sure if I have the flan recipe, but it wouldn't be too hard to find one.
        Now I'll have to look around the farmers market and see what would translate well with Winter veg. Bet they'd be great with a cheese souffle too.

        2 Replies
        1. re: rabaja

          thanks, rabaja! that is a "whomper" of a batch, indeed.

          1. re: rabaja

            That's lovely, rabaja.

            I think of à la Grecque as poached and marinated (allowed to cool in the well flavored poaching liquid) in the Greek style or manner. I do the usual veggies, mushrooms, artichokes, fennel.

          2. i was just reading a review of the NYC restaurant "felidia" in a 1981 "gourmet" (oh, those were the days!), and i thought of this thread when lidia was discussing her istrian "escabeche;" it sounded very much like this type of a la grecque preparation, but with fish, of course.
            i looked in vain for her recipe. i found a cuban recipe, but don't know how similar it is to the istrian version that lidia's family made. in any event, this recipe sounds tasty:

            it seems the latin escabeche recipes involve *frying* the main ingredient first, before the oil and vinegar is added. can anybody shed light on the istrian version?

            10 Replies
            1. re: alkapal

              I couldn't get your link to open and was I was unable to look at the recipe. Maybe you have to register with that site for access? Here's another recipe, are they similar?


              After a search, I couldn't find a specific Lidia Istrian recipe but I bet it, or something like it, is in her book, Lidia's Italy.

              The Latin escabeche is also referred to as "escovitch," or "escoveech" which is a very similar technique done in Caribbean West Indian cooking, specifically Jamaica, fry first, then marinate. The seasoning ingredients used in the Jamaican marinade are a bit different, which makes sense.

              I figure Istrian escabeche is very similar to a broad Mediterrean (mostly Spain, Portugal, Southern France, Italy, Greece, even North Africa) preparations, seafood is cooked first, either by sauteing, poaching or possibly grilling, then marinating with oil, an acid and a combo of flavoring agents. From my research, it seems like the word "escabeche" is Persian in origin, and the method of preparation was brought to Spain during the Moorish conquests. Obviously the Mediterrean technique of escabeche preparation influenced seafood preparation in the Latin new world.

              The seafood is not always cooked in the Latin world, as evidenced by jalapeños "en escabeche" (pickled) of Mexico and the wonderful raw marinated seafood dish Ceviche of Mexico, Central America and certain South American countries.

              This style of cooking was most likely a method of food perservation centuries ago, and has spread as far as Asia and the Pacific area, with adjustments in the ingredients to reflect what's locally available. Some pretty popular stuff, then and today.

              1. re: bushwickgirl

                bushwick girl, i hereby crown thee "queen escabeche!" ;-).

                i'm a big fan of various versions of latin american ceviche -- esp. with snapper and scallops, with lime juice, oil, and tiny minced hot peppers, red bell peppers, garlic, and....sometimes fresh minced ginger! (that was a new discovery a few years ago, and it tastes terrific. i found it authentic in some recipes). i've had it with potatoes in it, too.

                i'll check on my link, too.

                it popped right up for me.

                here are the ingredients.....

                3 1/2 lbs swordfish or 3 1/2 lbs fresh tuna, cut into 1/2-inch slices
                1 cup all-purpose flour
                1 1/2 cups olive oil
                2 large onions, sliced
                2 large green peppers, sliced
                1 large red pepper, sliced
                1 cup pimento stuffed olive, sliced
                1/2 cup capers
                1 tablespoon salt
                1/2 teaspoon pepper
                1/2 teaspoon paprika
                1/2 cup olive oil
                1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, to cover above ingredient

                fry up the dredged fish, then remove to drain. add in the onions and peppers, cook till tender. then drain, and add fish and all the other ingredients back into a glass or ceramic (NON-METAL) bowl to marinate overnight.

                1. re: alkapal

                  Thank you kindly, I'll give this a try, being a big fan of tasty preparations of both sword and tuna.

                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                    is it sword or mahi mahi that is terrific in a lebanese marinade with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice? either one! i've had it in kabob form, and then once i just quasi-oil-poached the filet in its marinade -- and that was a revelation. it was so succulent.

                    1. re: alkapal

                      I think either mahi or sword would be fine for a Lebanese style marinade, and fine for kebabing. Snapper would be nice very gently poached in the marinade.

                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                        in my lebanese marinade, i also used fresh oregano and thyme. maybe i even threw in some sumac.

                          1. re: bushwickgirl

                            the thing i love about the dish is that the fish with the marinade and cooking technique takes on such umami that it seems meat-like, without the heavy or fatty feeling of some meat.

                            the "bright" flavor is "clean" and "refreshing." tee hee.

                            1. re: alkapal

                              The flavors "dance lightly across the palate" with a lovely, tangy "finish." ahhhh, foodspeak. But really I was writing to remind you that two totally complementary flavors we've talked about recently are beets....and sumac. Not the poison kind. : )

                              1. re: mamachef

                                beets and sumac. yes, i can see that.

                                mr. alka loves fried calf's liver with sumac, too -- taught to me by my former law partner, who hailed from beirut.

                                sumac thread:

            2. Has anyone here ever eaten mushrooms à la grecque in Greece? People (well, French people) always joke about going to Greece and not being able to find them anywhere. I'm pretty sure it's a French recipe…

              More generally, there is a tradition of stewing vegetables in olive oil (Greek "ladera", Turkish "zeytinyağlılar"), and this can be referred to as "à la grecque" in French. But "à la grecque" is also a term in French cookery, only loosely inspired by Greek cuisine, that puts the focus on acidic flavors (lemon, white wine) and spices like thyme and coriander seed. There is usually olive oil, but not necessarily, and not in the quantities found in Greek and Turkish cuisine. "Légumes à la grecque" are also normally cooked for a much shorter time than true Greek ladera.

              3 Replies
              1. re: DeppityDawg

                Funny, I'm sure it's a French recipe inspired by Greek cooking, but I don't think the Greeks would refer to mushrooms prepared that way as à la grecque, maybe as στο γαλλικό στυλ though.

                1. re: DeppityDawg

                  We lived in Greece for about eight months in the late '80s, and spent every weekend checking out every nook and cranny of the Peloponessus and mainland Greece, and loving eating establishments that tourists never see. We often were hosted by my husbands Greek military students who were determined to show us everything and make sure we experienced the fullest possible spectrum of the best and greatest Greek food. We were dinner guests in many homes, and regularly were part of a large group that spent long evenings enjoying every kind of mezes possible. I don't recall *EVER* eating a mushroom!

                  1. re: Caroline1

                    LOL -- that cracks me up. those french are very creative.