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Updated: Mar 14, 2019

It's a strange title and you are probably wondering what I am talking about. Soufiko is a traditional Ikarian vegetable dish, and it’s roots go way back to a simpler time.

Let me tell you a little story. A long time ago before there was electricity or gas, locals would cook over the fire. They had wood ovens which were traditionally used to cook bread and other things once a week. So even in the summer there were always some hot ashes or charcoal in the fireplace. I can still remember my great aunt putting a few pinecones and twigs in the fire to be able to boil some water to make coffee. Somehow that coffee has always stayed in my mind as the most tasty.

One summer morning a couple were working in their garden. As they watered their produce, the wife collected various vegetables - tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers. The husband of course was wondering what their meal would be that day. His wife though, had disappeared. Without him noticing, she had taken the vegetables inside and quickly started cutting them into chunks and tossing them into a frying pan, then drizzled olive oil all over them and put the pan in the hot ashes. In Greek, to say “I left you some” is ”souafisa” but in the Ikarian dialect it is “souafika”. So when she came back out to her husband and he asked her what their midday meal would be. Her reply was simply, “Souafika” - "I left you some." And so from that day we got the word and the dish of soufiko.

I always thought this simple dish was very underrated. But it is so quick, easy, tasty, healthy and very versatile. You can serve it as a main course, or a side dish, or spooned over pasta or rice, and even as a substitute for potatoes with meat. If you have some leftover, it’s great in an omelet or a wrap with some cheese. 

To make it at home, here is the recipe. I hope you like it and maybe it will make you think of Ikaria and a simpler time back when garden-to-table was the norm and not just a phrase.

In a large frying pan, add in this order: 2 medium eggplants coarsely chopped, 2 zucchinis coarsely chopped, 2 medium onions cut in thick slices, 3 sliced garlic cloves, 3 green or sweet red peppers thickly sliced, and 1 large chopped tomato on top. Drizzle 4 tablespoons of olive oil on top. Cover and put on a low heat. After a few minutes shake the pan a bit rather than using a spoon to make sure nothing is sticking. Then let it cook for about 15-20 minutes. When done sprinkle oregano on top.  Kali oreksi

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