Turkish food is based on fresh, seasonal produce with generous usage of nuts, legumes and olive oil. I got some wonderful leafy, spring greens from the market the other day (similar to Swiss chard, though with tenderer leaves) and made this delicious greens cooked with onion and red peppers in olive oil, with pine nuts.
This dish is inspired by my hometown Antakya’s Zilk (similar to pazi, Swiss chard). Locals would use either leafy chard called zilk or spinach, including its entire stem. They may also add bulgur to make it a substantial meal.
I included sweet, juicy red bell peppers to my version, as well as the crunchy, creamy pine nuts, omitting bulgur. With a touch of zing from the lemon juice and a little heat from red pepper flakes, it turned out to be a very delicious vegetarian dish. We loved the crunchiness of the pine nuts here, they really complement the vegetables very well.
One of the participants attended my Turkish cookery class last Saturday was a Coeliac Expert and she was pleasantly surprised to see that Turkish cuisine offers a lot of good options for gluten-free diet. This dish is another good example.
On a separate note, I am delighted to hear that Antakya – Hatay’s application to UNESCO to become a UNESCO World City of Gastronomy has now been approved. This will be a very well deserved recognition for the rich, varied Antakya cuisine. I hope you can make it to Antakya one day and experience all the culinary delights.
- 200 gr / 8 oz. spring greens (or Swiss chard, kale spinach), trimmed and finely chopped (including stems)
- 2 small or 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper or pointy pepper, finely chopped
- ½ juice of lemon
- 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. water
- 30 ml/2 tbsp. olive oil
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- To serve:
- 50 gr/ 2 oz. pine nuts
- 10 ml/ 2 tsp. olive oil
- 10 ml/ 2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
- Heat the olive oil in a wide, heavy pan. Stir in the onions and chopped bell peppers. Sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes, they will start to soften.
- Add the chopped spring greens and mix well. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Stir and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.
- Stir in the lemon juice and 2 tbsp. water, combine well. Cover and cook for a further 8 minutes under low to medium heat. The vegetables will still retain a delicious bite to them, turn the heat off.
- While the spring greens are cooking, heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a small pan.
- Stir in the pine nuts and sauté under low to medium heat for about 3 minutes. Please keep an eye on the pine nuts, as they tend to brown quickly. Turn the heat off.
- Combine the pine nuts with the cooked greens, peppers and onions, mix well.
- Serve hot with red pepper flakes sprinkled over if you like. This dish is delicious with grills, fish and pasta. Olives and cheese aside go well too.