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Bulgur Pilaf with green lentils, served with caramelized onions -Mercimekli Bulgur Pilavi

Bulgur pilaff with lentils, over sauteed onion rings; delicious and wholesome

Bulgur pilaff with lentils, over sauteed onion rings; delicious and wholesome

This wonderful, traditional pilaf is from my hometown Antioch (Antakya), and it is served with caramelized onions over the top. The sweetness of the caramelized onions complements the lentils and bulgur really well. I like to serve it with spicy pickled peppers or a green salad with a sharp lemon juice and olive oil dressing, they complement the pilaf wonderfully. Easy, healthy and delicious, this pilaf can be kept in fridge for 2-3 days.

Variation: I had some chestnut mushrooms that needed using the other day. So I sautéed the slices of the mushrooms with some crushed garlic, and then added a handful of chopped parsley. Seasoned with salt and pepper and added a juice of 1/2 lemon to the mixture for a nice tangy finish. I served the bulgur and green lentils pilaf with this sautéed mushrooms, it was delightful. Just another idea for serving.

Serves 6-8
Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 35 minutes

225gr/8oz/1 cup green lentils
350gr/12oz bulgur wheat, rinsed
15ml/1 tablespoon mild olive oil
750ml/ 1/4 pints/3cups hot water
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
To serve:
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
45ml/3 tablespoons mild olive oil
Pickled green and red peppers

Boil the green lentils in a heavy pan with plenty of hot water for about 15 minutes. Drain the water and set the green lentils aside.

Combine the half cooked green lentils and rinsed the bulgur wheat in a heavy pan. Pour in the hot water and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine thoroughly. Bring to boil for 1-2 minutes, and then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer until all the liquid has been completely absorbed (about 15 minutes).

While the pilaf is cooking, heat the olive oil in a pan and stir in the onion slices. Over a medium heat, cook the onion slices for about 10-15 minutes until they start to get caramelized, stir occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the bulgur and green lentils pilaf with the caramelized onion slices over the top. Spicy pickled peppers or a green salad with a sharp lemon juice and olive oil dressing would go really well with the pilaf.  Cacik dip of yoghurt with cucumbers and garlic is also lovely with this wholesome meal.

Afiyet Olsun!

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Baked Salmon with Onions, Red Peppers and Lemon – Soganli, Kirmizi Biberli Firinda Somon

Baked Salmon with onion, peppers and lemon

Baked Salmon with onion, peppers and lemon

Turkey is surrounded by the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Sea and we get a good variety of fish. Generally, fish is bought very fresh, straight off the boats or from the fish markets. When it comes to cooking fish, Turks are purists and they don’t do much to it; you wouldn’t see any sauce around the fish served at home. Grilled fish is mostly served with a little dash of olive oil, grilled vegetables and fresh green salad with sliced red onions by the side. I love the simplicity of this baked salmon recipe, yet it is packed with flavor. The sweetness of the onions and red peppers go very well with the tangy lemon taste and their marriage works heavenly with the baked salmon.

Serves 2-4
Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 25-30 minutes

500gr/1 1/4lb salmon fillets
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 small pointy red pepper (or bell pepper), sliced
4 slices of lemon
30ml/2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

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

In a heavy pan, heat the olive oil. Stir in the onions and red peppers and cook until soft (for about 5 minutes). Season with salt and pepper and leave to cool.

Spread the foil (that is large enough to enclose all the fish) on a baking tray and place the salmon fillets on it. Spread the sautéed onions and red peppers on the fillets evenly. Place a slice of lemon on each fillet, season with salt and ground black pepper. Wrap the foil to make into a packet by pulling up the sides and pinching the edges tightly, leaving a little room for the steam to escape. Place the tray in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes (please refer to cooking instructions at the packaging as cooking time may vary with the size of the fish).

Once cooked, open up the packet, and serve the salmon hot with the onion, red pepper and lemon garnish. A green salad with lemon & olive oil dressing or steamed vegetables of your choice would go well with this dish.

Enjoy, Afiyet Olsun!

Ozlem

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Karniyarik – Stuffed Eggplants (Aubergines) with ground lamb, tomatoes and onions

 

Karniyarik; Stuffed eggplants with ground meat, onion, tomatoes

Karniyarik; Stuffed eggplants with ground meat, onion, tomatoes





This impressive dish is a legacy of the Ottoman Palace kitchens and yet another of the imperial demands for ingenuity concerning the much loved eggplant, aubergine, you will find this dish wherever you go in Turkey! Though traditionally made with ground lamb, you may prepare it with ground beef or have a vegetarian version too. Simply replace the meat with your favorite vegetable (mushrooms, chickpeas work very well), sprinkle some grated cheese over the top and bake it, it turns out to be a delicious alternative.

We use a lot of onion and garlic in Turkish cooking. Both have very valuable health benefits; onions carry healthy bifidobacteria and suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon. In addition, they can reduce the risk of tumors developing in the colon. Another good reason to welcome them in our dishes!

You can cook this dish ahead of time and gently reheat in the oven. Karniyarik freezes very well, once cooked.

Serves 6
Preparation time – 45 minutes Cooking time – 55 minutes

3 dark purple eggplants (aubergines; small to medium variety if possible)
340 gr / 12 ounces ground (minced) lean lamb
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
400 gr /14 oz (1 can of) chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
240 ml / 1 cup water
1 bunch or 1/2 cup Italian (flat) parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 – 4 tablespoons canola oil or ground nut oil for shallow frying
6 thin slices of tomato and green bell peppers, seeded – for decorative topping
1 -2  teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F

Cut the eggplants in half lengthways leaving the stalk intact. In each half of eggplant, cut a deep split lengthways without cutting through to the skin on the opposite side and leaving 1/2″-13 mm- uncut at either end. Sprinkle salt over the flesh side of the eggplants and leave them aside for 15 minutes. Salt will help the moisture come out of the eggplants.

In a little of the olive oil, sauté the onions until soft. Add the ground lamb and cook until all the moisture is absorbed. Add the garlic, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, mix well. Continue cooking for a further couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in most of the chopped parsley. Seasoning is important, so please check the seasoning of the mixture and add more salt or pepper if you would like.

Dry the eggplants with kitchen towel thoroughly. Lightly brown them evenly on both sides in the canola oil or gorundnut oil. With the split sides facing up, place them into a well-oiled ovenproof dish or a baking tray. Spoon the filling into the splits. On the top of each filled eggplant put a slice of tomato and a green bell pepper. Mix the water with a drizzle of olive oil. Pour this mixture on the baking tray. Cover and bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes. Remove the cover and continue baking for another 15 minutes or until they are tender and the eggplants are nicely browned on top.

Serve hot with plain rice and a dollop of plain yoghurt by the side.

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