Mantza, or Mantzia, is the word for stew in certain local dialects in northern Greece, especially in central Macedonia and a little further north and west, toward Prespes. There are many versions of this simple, hearty dish; some are purely vegetable stews; others combine vegetables, especially the local red pepper, with river fish like carp. In this version, fresh red peppers invariably appear but so does the regionβ€™s cheese, Batzos.
- 2 large eggplants, washed, trimmed and cut into 2 Β½ cm (1-inch) cubes
- 2-3 medium zucchini, washed, trimmed and cut into 2 Β½ cm (1-inch) cubes
- Β½ cup extra-virgin northern Greek olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 6 Florina red peppers, seeded and diced into 2 Β½ cm (1-inch) chunks
- 2 large tomatoes, grated
- 250 gr. (1/2 lb.) Batzo cheese, cubed as above
- Paprika and cayenne to taste
- 3-4 Tbs. finely chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Place the eggplant cubes in a colander and toss lightly with salt. Place a plate and then a weight on top and let the eggplants drain for 1 hour. Set aside. Do the same for the zucchini cubes, in a separate colander. Do not rinse.
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large, deep skillet or wide pot over high heat and sautΓ© the onion and peppers for a few minutes, to soften. Push the onion-pepper mixture to one side, or remove it with a slotted spoon from the skillet.
Add four more tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet and sautΓ© the eggplant and zucchini over high heat until the vegetables are lightly browned and crisp around the edges. Add the onion-pepper mixture back in. Pour in the tomatoes. Cook uncovered over medium flame until thick.
While the vegetables are cooking, heat the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil in a nonstick skillet over high heat and sautΓ© the cheese cubes until golden and crisped around the edges. Just before removing the vegetables from the heat, toss in the cheese cubes. Adjust seasoning with salt to taste as well as with paprika and cayenne. Remove from heat and serve on a platter or on individual plates, garnished with a little fresh parsley.
Enjoy a glass of rose Xinomavro with this aromatic stew.