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Tag Archives | lemon

A refreshingly delicious Baked Chicken with Summer Vegetables, Chickpeas, Lemon Pepper & touch of Zahtar

Tangy, refreshing lemon, packed with goodness.

Tangy, refreshing lemon, packed with goodness.

I am a huge lemon fan; love its refreshing, tangy flavor and lemon is a welcome addition to most of the dishes I enjoy. My dear friend Hande knows my soft spot for lemons and she made us a delicious chicken course using this lemon pepper blend while we stayed with them in Houston. It was my first time to try this blend and I greatly enjoyed it.

Lemon pepper spice blend; delicious on fish, poultry and vegetables.

Lemon pepper spice blend; delicious on fish, poultry and vegetables.

Lemon pepper blend consists of good sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, lemon peel, garlic and onion. It is wonderful on fish and equally as good on chicken, turkey and vegetables. The spice store Penzeys  have it; alternatively, you can also make your own.

Baked chicken with summer vegetables and lemon pepper; a delicious main course you can prepare ahead of time.

Baked chicken with summer vegetables and lemon pepper; a delicious main course you can prepare ahead of time.

Hande kindly gave me some extra lemon pepper seasoning and we recently made this delicious baked chicken with summer vegetables. Runner beans, or string beans or taze fasulye are in season until about October and they are delicious in this dish. Peppers, zucchini, tomato all worked well here with the tangy lemon pepper. I also added some cooked chickpeas here, as commonly used in Southern Turkish cooking, like in this stuffed zucchini/courgettes with ground meat, tomatoes, onions and chickpeas recipe. It turned out to be a wholesome, delicious meal, (late) summer on a plate. An easy, wonderful casserole you can prepare ahead of time and leftovers freeze very well.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4

Serves 2-4

Preparation time: 35 minutes                   Cooking time: 45 minutes

450 gr./1lb chicken breast, cut into small chunks

175gr/6oz. runner beans (or string beans)

2 small zucchini (courgette), cut in half and sliced

2 onions, chopped coarsely

4-6 garlic cloves, diced

3 small bell peppers (green, yellow and red), deseeded and cut into chunks

400gr/14oz. -1 can of chopped tomatoes

400gr/14oz; 1 can of cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed

30ml/2 tbsp. olive oil

240ml/8 fl. oz. /1 cup water

To marinate the chicken:

Juice of 1 lemon

15ml/1 tbsp. lemon pepper seasoning (*)

15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil

(*) To make your own lemon pepper seasoning:

Zest of 1 lemon

10ml/ 2 tsp. sea salt (you can have if you prefer)

5ml/1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

 To serve:

Turkish red pepper flakes/ Pul Biber

Plain rice

To make your own lemon pepper; combine the lemon zest with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, ready to season the chicken (I didn’t add garlic and onion to this blend, as I used plenty onions and garlic at the chicken bake).

In a bowl, combine the lemon pepper, lemon juice and olive oil and rub this mixture to the chicken pieces, mix well. Cover and keep in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or so that the flavors can blend.

Summer on a plate; runner beans, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini taste delicious in this chicken casserole.

Summer on a plate; runner beans, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini taste delicious in this chicken casserole.

While the chicken is marinating, prepare your vegetables. Top and tail the beans and pull away any strings and cut into 3-4 pieces. I also like to cut them in half into thin strips. Combine the rest of the vegetables in a baking dish, stir in the olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Place the marinated chicken in a heavy pan and sauté for 3-5 minutes to seal their juice. Turn the heat off.

Stir in the sautéed chicken to the vegetables mix and add the chopped tomatoes and water. Give them all a good mix. Bake in the pre-heated oven, uncovered for about 35 minutes.

About 35 minutes later, stir in the rinsed, cooked chickpeas to the mixture, combine well. Bake for another 10 minutes or so, until the chicken and vegetables starting to turn nicely golden brown on top.

Chicken casserole with summer vegetables, chickpeas and lemon pepper; a delicious and wholesome main course

Chicken casserole with summer vegetables, chickpeas and lemon pepper; a delicious and wholesome main course

If you like a little heat like we do, sprinkle some Turkish red pepper flakes, pul biber on the finished dish, just before you serve.

Here is my plate! This baked chicken with vegetables make a delicious, complete meal with plain rice and natural yoghurt by the side.

Here is my plate! This baked chicken with vegetables make a delicious, complete meal with plain rice and natural yoghurt by the side.

You can serve your baked chicken with summer vegetables with plain rice and natural plain yoghurt aside. Cacik, the cucumber yoghurt dip with mint  would also be a delicious accompaniment.

Aromatic Zahtar blend of sumac, wild oregano, sesame seeds and more;  it adds a lot of flavor to vegetables, meat and poultry.

Aromatic Zahtar blend of sumac, wild oregano, sesame seeds and more; it adds a lot of flavor to vegetables, meat and poultry.

Recently, we also enjoyed this chicken and vegetables bake with the aromatic zahtar sprinkled over too. Za’atar is an exotic blend of herbs, spices and nuts, widely used in Southern Turkish as well as Middle Eastern cooking. At my home town, Antakya, zahtar blend is a rich mixture of dried zahter, sesame seeds, crushed cooked chickpeas, cumin, nigella seeds, sea salt, sumac and many more. It has a lovely, pungent, nutty taste and flavors salads, meat, and vegetables beautifully. Here is more information on zahtar and how to make your zahtar blend at home.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 

 

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A Turkish Classic; Eggplants stuffed with onion, garlic and tomatoes in olive oil; Imam Bayildi

Imam Bayildi; eggplants, aubergines, stuffed with onions, garlic and tomatoes and poached in olive oil; just melt in the mouth

Imam Bayildi; eggplants, aubergines, stuffed with onions, garlic and tomatoes and poached in olive oil; just melt in the mouth

Patlican, eggplants or aubergines are one of the most popular vegetables (actually fruit, as it has seeds in it) in Turkey; we must have over 200 recipes showcasing our beloved patlican, eggplant. I love this classic Turkish dish, Imam Bayildi or “Imam Fainted”, one of the most popular eggplant dishes at home. Legend says  “Imam Fainted” either due to the shock or the pleasure at the quantity of the olive oil used in this dish! No doubt, eggplant loves olive oil and tastes so good in this Imam Bayildi.

Imam Bayildi; this delicious stuffed eggplants in olive oil is lovely vegetarian course, enjoyed at  room temperature or cold

Imam Bayildi; this delicious stuffed eggplants in olive oil is lovely vegetarian course, enjoyed at room temperature or cold

The aubergines are gently poached in this dish with a generous mixture of onions, tomatoes and garlic. This dish is in the category of Vegetables cooked in olive oil, Zeytinyaglis in Turkish cuisine, where the vegetables are poached in olive oil and little water and served either cold or room temperature with a slice of lemon aside. It is delicious and refreshing for hot summer days, just melts in the mouth.

You can prepare Imam Bayildi ahead of time and the left overs can keep in fridge for 2-3 days. I used a little less olive oil here and added dried mint to the filling; the result was a light, utterly delicious and refreshing vegetarian course.

Serves 4

2 large (and slim, if possible) eggplants/aubergines

1 large onion, halved and finely sliced

3 tomatoes, finely chopped

3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

60ml/4 tablespoons olive oil

Juice of ½ lemon

10ml/2 teaspoon sugar

5ml/1 teaspoon dried mint

Salt and black ground pepper to taste

Light olive oil (or canola oil) to shallow fry the eggplants/aubergines

Extra wedges of lemon to serve

 

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the aubergines lengthways in zebra stripes.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the aubergines lengthways in zebra stripes.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the aubergines length ways in zebra stripes, then cut the eggplants / aubergines in half lengthways. In each half of eggplant, cut a deep split length ways without cutting through to the skin on the opposite side and leaving 1/2″-13 mm- uncut at either end. Sprinkle salt (this will help the moisture come out) over the eggplants and leave for about 10-15 minutes to leach out the moisture and bitter juices of eggplants. After that, thoroughly drain and pat dry the eggplants with paper towel to get rid of this moisture, otherwise they will be soggy.

 Place the sauteed eggplants on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Place the sauteed eggplants on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Heat about 1cm/1/2in light olive oil or canola oil in a deep sided pan. Place the eggplants in the oil and shallow fry quickly on both sides until they are softened and have a light brown color, for about 3-5 minutes. Place paper towel on a tray and transfer these eggplants there; the paper towel will absorb the excess olive oil.

Dried mint brings a refreshing flavor to the filling of the eggplants.

Dried mint brings a refreshing flavor to the filling of the eggplants.

Now let’s prepare the filling. Stir in the sliced onions and garlic in a bowl, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, dried mint, salt and ground black pepper to taste. Knead this mixture with your hands for the dried mint and seasoning to blend well (this will also help the onions to soften). Stir in the tomatoes and parsley to the mixture and combine well.

Lift the eggplants to a chopping board and open up the split in the middle to create pockets. Spoon the mixture into these eggplant pockets, packing it in tightly so that all of the filling is used up (if you have any left over filling, I would simply cook them in the same pan next to these eggplant pockets).

Spoon the filling mixture into the eggplant pockets.

Spoon the filling mixture into the eggplant pockets.

Place the stuffed eggplants side by side in a wide, heavy pan. Mix the remaining olive oil with ½ cup water, lemon juice and sugar and pour it over the eggplants.

Cover the pan with a lid and place over a medium heat to get the oil hot and create some steam. Once the cooking liquid is hot, cook the eggplants for about 45-50 minutes. Once cooked, they should be soft and tender, with a little of cooking liquid left in the bottom of the pan.

Leave Imam Bayildi;  stuffed eggplants in olive oil to cool and rest in the pan after cooking.

Leave Imam Bayildi; stuffed eggplants in olive oil to cool and rest in the pan after cooking.

Leave the eggplants to cool and rest in the pan for the flavors to settle, then carefully transfer them to a serving dish and spoon the oil from the pan over the eggplants. Serve at room temperature or cold, with a wedge of lemon aside and extra garnish of parsley over them.

Imam Bayildi; eggplants, aubergines, stuffed with onions, garlic and tomatoes and poached in olive oil; just melt in the mouth

Imam Bayildi; eggplants, aubergines, stuffed with onions, garlic and tomatoes and poached in olive oil; a delicious vegetarian course, just melts in the mouth

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Tips for buying eggplants: Although these days eggplants are available all year around, July, August and September are their prime time.  When buying, choose eggplants with smooth, shiny skin, heavy for their size, and having no blemishes, tan patches, or bruises. Wrinkled, loose skin is an indication of age, and the fruit will be more bitter. Smaller eggplants have fewer seeds, thinner skin, and tend to be sweeter, tenderer and less bitter.

The US is Calling – time to travel!

Sharing a delicious bite with dear Nancy and Turkish food lovers at my previous Turkish cooking class at Central Market Cooking School, Austin - Texas

Sharing a delicious bite with dear Nancy and Turkish food lovers at my previous Turkish cooking class at Central Market Cooking School, Austin – Texas

I will be departing shortly for the US; we as a family all greatly look forward to visiting dear friends in Texas and in Park City, Utah. I am so very much looking forward returning to Central Market Cooking School in Austin to teach my Turkish Cookery class with them on 2nd August; I know so many of you Turkish food lovers in Austin already booked their spots, my heartfelt thanks to you all. I will be in touch with a post from the US and share our foodie and travel experience 🙂

Best wishes for the summer to you all!

Ozlem

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Spaghetti with Fresh Peas, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Garlicky Prawns

Fresh peas are packed with flavor

Fresh peas are packed with flavor

We are a big fan of peas in our family and I especially love fresh peas. They are packed with flavor and their brightness and sweetness are so inviting. Peas work particularly well in “Zeytinyaglis”,”Vegetables Cooked in Olive Oil” in Turkish Cuisine, like in this Baby Artichokes Poached in Olive Oil with Peas, Carrots and Almonds. Dressed with olive oil and lemon juice, they are not only very healthy but also very refreshing, a joy to eat during summer time and can be kept in fridge 2-3 days.

Artichokes in olive oil, Em tennis, almond bulgur, lokum first p 015

Artichokes poached in olive oil with peas, carrots and almonds; peas work delicious here too.

I was delighted to see some delicious recipes showcasing fresh peas by one of my favorite chefs & food writer Stevie Parle and our menu was set; Spaghetti with fresh peas, sun dried tomatoes and shrimp. Good tips from Stevie when buying fresh peas; look for pods that are silky-soft, shiny and green; the peas within will not have split yet and should be small, soft and sweet. When they are really good, you can put a bowl of them on the table and you’ll find folks munching away on them with a glass of wine or beer.

Spaghetti with fresh peas, sun dried tomatoes and shrimp

Spaghetti with fresh peas, sun dried tomatoes and shrimp

I added sun dried tomatoes that needed finishing to this recipe; their tangy and sweet flavor worked well with the peas and the garlicky shrimps. I also loved the refreshing lemon zest here and the fact that a freshly cooked delicious meal ready in less than 30 minutes.

Adapted by Stevie Parle’s brown shrimp and pea taglierini 

Serves 3- 4                                            Preparation & Cooking time: 25- 30 minutes

200gr/7 oz. peas

30ml / 2 tbsp. sun dried tomatoes, cut in stripes

1-2 garlic cloves, finely sliced

180gr/ 6 ¼ oz. raw prawns, peeled

Zest of 1 lemon and juice of ½ lemon

250gr/ 8 ½ spaghetti

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Extra virgin olive oil to serve – optional

 

Shell the peas and rinse well. Bring a pan of salted water to boil.

Stir in the olive oil in a small saucepan and gently fry the garlic until it just begins to color. Add the prawns and season with salt and a little pepper. Stir and cook for about 2 – 3 minutes, then take the heat off and stir in the sun dried tomatoes, lemon zest and juice.

Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in the fresh peas to the boiling water and cook together for a further of 3-4 minutes, until the spaghetti is just cooked. Drain, reserving a little of the pasta water. Pour the shrimp mixture into the pasta and add a dash of cooking water. Mix everything well, check the seasoning then transfer to plates. You can drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over and serve.

Fresh peas in spaghetti with sun dried tomatoes and garlicky shrimp; a delicious and easy meal

Fresh peas in spaghetti with sun dried tomatoes and garlicky prawns; a delicious and easy meal

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 

 

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