Fergese is a dish made with tomatoes, onions, roasted red peppers, feta cheese, and yogurt. The vegetables are all stewed together and then combined with a feta-yogurt roux that adds a creaminess to the dish. Give this one a try, you won’t regret it!
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In the middle of a tough week cooking Albania, I welcomed these yummy, easy vegetables! The fergese is actually the only dish from the week that turned out perfectly on the first try. It was so quick to put together.
Once I roasted the peppers, I just simmered and then baked the vegetables together, and added the dairy mixture. Most of the trouble of the dish was just waiting for it to come out of the oven!
This dish wasn’t just easy, it was versatile, too. I LOVE adding sauces to pretty much everything… I dip my bread in pasta sauce; Cracking over-medium eggs onto sautéed veggies to gives ‘em a little oomf; and I CANNOT eat a dry sandwich.
Let me tell you, if you like sauces like I do, this fergese is PERFECT for that need. Of course you can enjoy the fergese all on its own, but I found it particularly delicious when spooned over the pispili or even eaten in the same bite as the qofte… Mmm talk about amping up the flavor.
How to Make a Roux
The roux is most likely the toughest part of this dish, but if you can get it right, everything else should be a breeze. A roux is a mixture of a fat and flour normally used as the base of sauces. In this case, our fat of choice is butter, but rouxs can also be created with milk.
To make a good roux, you need to make sure it doesn’t burn. The longer a roux cooks, the more it thickens. This is great for creating a more robust sauce.
However, the longer you let your roux sit on the stove, the more likely it is to burn. Make sure to give it a stir every once in a while to even out the heat distribution.
To start the roux, melt your butter in the pot and then add your flour and stir to combine.
This is what your roux should look like after the first step[/caption]
Next, add the yogurt and feta cheese into the roux. Cook it on a low heat so as to melt the cheese without burning your creation!
How the roux should look once the yogurt and feta are added and melted[/caption]
Mix that roux into your pepper and onion mixture, lay it in a casserole dish, and pop it in the oven!
So what is Fergese?
Fergese is a dish that originated in the capital of Albania, Tirana. Albanians usually eat this as an appetizer, but sometimes they serve it with bread to transform it into a main course. Some households also choose to add liver into the dish to make it more filling… my family has been good at being adventurous for me, but I’m not quite sure I could convince them to eat liver yet. We’ll save that adventure for another day.
Another option that would pair well with this dish is Sfiha, a meat-topped flatbread with spices, found served on the streets in Iraq. This Pakistani Chicken Karahi recipe would also pair well with the vegetarian side. Either way, you’ll have a delicious dinner!
If you try it as is or choose to give it a little spin (maybe some liver, perhaps??) let me know how it goes! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Fergese (Albanian Peppers and Tomatoes)
- 5 bell peppers, roasted, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- About 1.5 tomatoes, chopped
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 ¾ cup feta cheese
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 tbsp greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp basil
- olive oil
- If roasting your own red peppers, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lay peppers on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 20 mins on one side, then flip and bake for 20 mins on the opposite side. Keep baking until the peppers appear withered and the skin is a bit blackened.
- Reduce oven temperature to 350
- Sautee the onion in a small amount of olive oil for about 5 minutes. Set aside.
- In a large pan, add chopped tomatoes and bell peppers and simmer for about 10 minutes. Most of the liquid should cook out of the mixture.
- Mix onions into tomato and pepper mixture, and then set aside to cool.
- In a separate saucepan, melt the butter. Mix in the flour to form a roux.
- Stirring continuously, add feta. Continue to cook until the feta has melted and the mixture is very thick. Add the yogurt.
- Once the roux is complete, stir it into the vegetable mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
- Transfer the mixture into a 9×9 casserole dish and cook for 30 minutes.