Papoutsakia, Naxos Eggplant bake

Naxos is the greenest and largest of the Cycladic islands. White-washed houses will meet and greet you in the Hora of Naxos, dream sandy beaches with crystal clear waters are a stone's throw away while you will be surrounded by high mountains with picturesque villages. The natural beauty of Naxos can only be matched by its high quality cuisine.

Preparation time
20 minutes
Cooking time
25 minutes
Serves
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1kg of beef cut in chunks
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 300ml of tomatoes, chopped or grated (I normally use fresh, ripe tomatoes)
  • 1 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 100ml of EVOO
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Water
  • 6 large aubergines
  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • Naxos graviera or gruyere
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper and a pinch of cinnamon

Naxos and the wonderful beef and eggplant bake (Kalogeros)

Naxos is a foodie's paradise. This Cycladic Island is blessed with natural springs that secure fresh water for the abundant crops on the fertile plains. Fresh vegetables and aromatic herbs are top of the range and there is a little gem amongst them: the potato. The humble potato has reached PDE status on the island of Naxos and truly no other can match it in flavour and texture. Agriculture goes hand-in-hand with farming that thrives on the island, making dairy production one of the most renown in Greece.

Graviera Naxou, a sweet, buttery flavoured table cheese is amongst the most beloved Greek cheeses. Graviera Naxou has been awarded a Protected Denomination of Origin status as it is one of the few cheeses that is produced exclusively from cow's milk. Whilst the graviera is the most famous of the island’s cheeses, there is also arseniko, a salty, hard table cheese made from sheep’s and goat's milk; ladotiri, similar to arseniko but matured in olive oil; ksinomizithra or ksinotiri, a fresh, slightly sour white cheese, made from goat’s milk and produced in the summer months, great for salads or with watermelon; mizithra another fresh cheese, much like a spread but light and creamy and finally touloumotiri, soft and creamy but spicy, it is one of the oldest cheese preparations originally matured in a touloumi – a specially prepared goat’s skin.

The cuisine of Naxos is as rich as its products.  If you are a fish and seafood lover, stay by the coast and look out for the traditional Greek fish soup kakavia, and salachtouri, ray fish salad with lemon dressing.You can savour all the classic Greek dishes such as moussaka but I would urge you to visit the inland tavernas or those in hilltop villages for excellent lamb dishes and roasts.  Kalogeros, 'monk’s food’ is one of the most authentic Greek dishes. A tomato sauce veal stew, finished in the oven with baked aubergines and the famous graviera Naxou.

How to cook

How to prepare baked greek aubergine

1. Brown the beef in a tablespoon of olive oil, add the finely chopped onion and cook until translucent.

2. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, salt and pepper and cook for approximately 1 ½ hour on low-medium heat.

3. Whilst the beef is cooking, prepare the aubergines. Cut them in half and scar the flesh of each half diagonally, from left to right and then right to left to create diamond shaped cuts. Add a bit of salt, brush with olive oil and bake at 180 C for about 15 minutes or shallow fry in a bit of olive oil, 2-3 minutes each side. Keep the oven going at 180 C, if you are baking the aubergines or preheat it at 180 C to continue.

4. Once the beef stew is ready, take each half of the baked aubergines and push the flesh with a spoon to create a cup. Fill each half with beef stew and two generous tablespoons of tomato sauce. Place a couple of tomato slices on each half nad finish with slices of cheese or grated.

5. Place in deep baking dish and bake for 5-7 minutes until the cheese has melted and serve straight from the oven!