Greek Lenten Vegetable Stew


Real Stew

Published by Harvard Common Press

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

In every region of Greece there is a variety of Lenten stews, made without meat, of course. The variations are based on local produce and always fresh vegetables. Typically, a lot of olive oil is used in a vegetable stew, although I’ve cut the quantity down considerably in this recipe, called yahni nistismo, “Lenten stew.” Cumin, pepper, coriander, allspice, and dried herbs are used in winter stews, while fresh dill, parsley, savory, thyme, and mint are used in the summer. Wine, vinegar, and lemon are used year-round. There are two types of island stew cookery: Kavourthistá always starts with the frying of meat and vegetables before they are put into a stew, making whatever is cooking richer in color but also heavier. Yahnistá starts with the gentle sautéing of onion before the addition of the remaining ingredients. I normally serve Greek style vegetable stews at room temperature only because I prefer them that way, as the flavors steep and mingle better, I think.

Makes6 servings

Cooking Methodsauteeing, stewing



Total Timeunder 2 hours

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Courseappetizer, main course, side dish

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian

Mealdinner, lunch

Moodblue, tired

Taste and Textureherby, light, savory

Type of Dishsoup


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice
  • 3 zucchini, ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
  • ½ pound green beans, ends trimmed and cut in half
  • 4 large, ripe tomatoes (about 1½ pounds), quartered
  • 8 scallions (white and green parts), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup chopped fresh, parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 pound spinach, heavy stems removed and washed well


  1. In a casserole, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. When the butter stops sizzling, cook the onion until soft, 5 to 6 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the water and spinach, and toss so everything is coated with butter and oil. Add the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.

  2. Add the spinach, cover again, and once it wilts, after about 5 minutes, remove the pot from the burner. Serve hot or at room temperature with crusty bread.


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