Soufico is a traditional dish from Greece and a particularly popular meal from Ikaria. Ikaria, has been shown to be one of the healthiest regions in the world, having a large population of centenarians who live active lives well into old age.
So if you’re interested in learning how to cook like an Ikarian, Soufico is a great place to start!
Different regions, and households, in Ikaria cook Soufico with slight variations. But typically, it will include local, seasonal vegetables and a healthy quantity of olive oil. A great recipe comes from Diane Kochilas, shown below.
Be prepared, it is not a fast meal. But that is part of its secret to success. The long preparation process not only adds taste; it adds value above and beyond a more delicious concoction. The lengthy preparation process adds benefit to your mental health, leads to healthier eating practices, and provides the perfect opportunity to spend time with loved ones.
I highly recommend Kochilas’ book on traditional Greek cooking, The Country Cooking of Greece, to explore further. Here’s a snapshot of this fine recipe that serves 4 - 6.
First, cut 4 medium zucchinis and 2 medium eggplants into ¼-inch rounds. Then cut 2 large green bell peppers into 1-inch strips. Sprinkle each one with salt, let them drain for an hour, and then wipe them dry.
This step helps bring out the moisture in these vegetables. You should see the water drain out over time.
Then, heat a frying pan with extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat. Lightly fry 3 large onions and 3 garlic cloves, each finely chopped. Set them aside (you’ll add this in layers to your dish.
Next, lightly fry 2 large potatoes cut into ¼-inch rounds until the edges begin to change color. When they’re done, add them to a wide pot or Dutch oven with ~½-cup of olive oil. This is where you will build your soufico. Do so by adding ingredients one layer at a time. So each layer should be not larger than 2 layers thick in any one ingredient.
After you’ve added the potatoes, season with salt and pepper and add a thin layer of your onion/garlic mixture.
Repeat this process now with the zucchinis and the eggplant, adding oil when needed to the frying pan and layering them into your final soufico pot with salt, pepper, and your onion/garlic mixture in between each layer.
Next, lightly fry the bell peppers just enough to soften them and add on top.
Finally, add 3 large, firm tomatoes thinly chopped to the top of your creation before covering and simmering the entire dish for 20-30 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature, and make sure to get all of the layers onto the plate!
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