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Olive Salad with Pomegranate Molasses and Za-atar; Zeytin Ufeleme

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Here are some wonderful photos of a typical Turkish fruit and vegetable market, Pazar. Getting the fresh veg and fruit from the markets are a big part of Turkish cooking and this is our local market walking distance to my parents’ home in Istanbul. The abundance of different types of fruit and vegetables, wonderful displays of fruits, nuts, olives, cheese and spices are simply mesmerising, and the vegetables available at that time would dictate the meals of the day. Wonderful to watch the market and wonderful to pick your fruit and veg; I can spend a whole day there!

Zeytin Ufeleme – Olive Salad with vegetables, pomegranate molasses and zahtar (za’atar)

Zeytin Ufeleme – Olive Salad with vegetables, pomegranate molasses and zahtar (za’atar)

Zeytin Ufeleme – Olive Salad with vegetables, pomegranate molasses and zahtar (za’atar)

We Turks eat olives throughout the day; the Turkish breakfast starts with olive, cheese, sliced tomato and cucumber accompanied with bread. We also enjoy olives as a meze for lunch or in the evening. Olive trees are grown all across the Aegean and Mediterranean coast of Turkey, in colorful shades of black, green, brown and black; they are absolutely to die for!

This very simple yet delicious meze features my home town Antakya’s pomegranate molasses as a dressing. We would enjoy it as part of our Turkish brunch at the weekends or in the evening as a meze. To make a fruit molasses, the juice is extracted from the fruit before it is boiled and reduced to create a dark, fruity syrup. It is rich, tangy and full of flavor. Most middle eastern and specialty shops carry pomegranate molasses; here’s my home made pomegranate molasses recipe, if you’d like to make at home. If you can’t find it, you can substitute with a sharp balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.  The fresh herb zahter or za’atar, zahtar, is also commonly added to this salad in Antakya region. Fresh Zahtar looks more like summer savory, or a crossing of marjoram, oregano and thyme, and adds a wonderful, pungent flavor to the salads.

Serves 4     Preparation time: 15 minutes

1/5 of an onion or 1 green (spring) onion, finely chopped
A handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

2 tbsp chopped fresh zahtar (za’atar), if available or 1 tbsp. dried za’atar
90 ml/ 6 tablespoon green and black olives, pitted
2 medium tomatoes, finely diced
45 ml/ 3 tablespoons olive oil
15 ml/1tablespoons pomegranate molasses (or balsamic vinegar)
Salt and ground black pepper

Pita bread serve

Place the diced onions in a bowl and sprinkle with a little salt. Work the salt in onions with your hands – this will soften the onions and make it more palatable. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss thoroughly.

Serve with slices of pita bread by the side.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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