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Tag Archives | pine nuts

Spinach Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Chestnuts & My Turkish Cooking Classes in Surrey & Istanbul in February!

Spinach salad with celery, red onions, sauteed chestnuts and pine nuts; delicious & refreshing

Spinach salad with celery, red onions, sauteed chestnuts and pine nuts; delicious & refreshing

As much as I love indulging in rich festive food during the holidays, I look forward to returning to my salad days. Salads made with seasonal ingredients form an important part of Turkish cuisine and this refreshing spinach salad with jewel like pomegranates and seasonal chestnuts became a big hit with us.

Roasted chestnut stall in Istanbul; they are iresistable.

Roasted chestnut stall, Kestaneci, in Istanbul; they are irresistible.

Roasted chestnut stalls are a frequent sight in Turkey at this time of the year; straight from the roasting tin, I love their delicious, warming and comforting taste. You can use roasted or cooked chestnuts in this salad. Precooked chestnuts are also widely available in supermarkets these days. We often use nuts in Turkish cuisine; I also added some pine nuts to my salad and sautéed it with the cooked chestnuts, for a nice texture and a delicious bite.

Very inviting pomegranates and its freshly squeezed juice, in Pergamum, Bergama - Turkey

Very inviting pomegranates and its freshly squeezed juice, in Pergamum, Bergama – Turkey

The star of this salad is really the pomegranate seeds. Packed with goodness, antioxidants and a deliciously vibrant, sweet & tangy flavor, they just bring the salad together so nicely. A drizzle of pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi is my choice of salad dressing here; we use this dressing a lot especially in Southern Turkish cuisine, as in Kisir, Bulgur wheat salad with vegetables and Turkish hot pepper paste, or the Gavurdagi Salad of tomatoes, onions and walnuts. You may use a good quality balsamic vinegar instead, if you can’t get pomegranate molasses.

 Spinach salad with pomegranate seeds and sauteed chestnuts & pine nuts - delicious and wholesome

Spinach salad with pomegranate seeds and sauteed chestnuts & pine nuts – delicious and wholesome

I hope you enjoy this easy, delicious and refreshing salad. Here is another idea; why not add some pomegranate seeds to plain yogurt, with some walnuts, dried apricots and a drizzle of honey for breakfast ? A delicious, wholesome start for the day 🙂

Yoghurt with dried apricots, walnuts, pomegranate and blueberries

Yoghurt with dried apricots, walnuts, pomegranate and blueberries

Serves 2 – 4

175gr / 6oz fresh spinach leaves, thoroughly washed and pat dried

½ red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced

2-3 celery sticks, roughly chopped

45ml/3 tbsp. pine nuts

110gr/4oz cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped

30ml/2tbsp. olive oil

15ml/1tbsp pomegranate molasses

Seeds of a pomegranate, about 8oz / 1 cup (you can use less if you prefer)

Slices of crusty bread or Turkish pide (flat bread) to serve

 

Arrange the washed spinach leaves, sliced red onions and chopped celery in a salad bowl, combine well.

Gently sauté pine nuts and chestnuts until pine nuts turn to golden brown.

Gently sauté pine nuts and chestnuts until pine nuts turn to golden brown.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and stir in the cooked chestnuts and pine nuts. Gently sauté until pine nuts turn to golden brown (keep an eye on especially the pine nuts, as they burn quickly after browning).

Refreshing spinach salad with celery, red onion, pomegranate seeds and sauteed nuts.

Refreshing spinach salad with celery, red onion, pomegranate seeds and sauteed nuts.

Toss the sautéed nuts to the salad mixture and combine well. Drizzle the pomegranate molasses and stir in the pomegranate seeds. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately, accompanied by Turkish pide (flat bread) or some crusty bread. This salad also complements grilled fish and meat very nicely.

Afiyet olsun,

Ozlem

My Turkish Cooking Classes coming up in Weybridge- Surrey and Istanbul in February!

Refreshing crumbled feta salad with spices

Delicious crumbled feta cheese salad with spices & olive oil; Cokelek Salatasi

I am delighted to be teaching 2 Turkish cookery classes in February;  on Saturday, 8th February, from 10am to 12 noon in Weybridge, Surrey and on Wednesday, 19th February at the Istanbul Culinary Institute in Istanbul.

Teaching at Istanbul Culinary Institute last year;  it was wonderful to have mother at the class.

Teaching at Istanbul Culinary Institute last year; it was wonderful to have mother at the class.

From Feta Cheese Salad with red onions, tomatoes and spices to Stuffed Courgettes (Zucchini) with ground meat and chickpeas in Pomegranate Sauce and to Revani, Semolina sponge cake & More; Please join us to learn how to prepare delicious and wholesome Turkish Cuisine and artful use of spices.

You can find the details for the classes at this link, Ozlem’s Turkish Table – Cookery Classes. I would be delighted to have your company to share and enjoy Turkish cuisine together, if you’d like to join us. Participation is limited and early booking recommended.

 

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Baked Tahini Halva with Pine Nuts; Firinda Tahin Helvasi

Sweet and flaky tahini &and honey based halva or helva, a real treat

Sweet and flaky tahini &and honey based halva or helva, a real treat

Weather is turning cooler for most us and we look out for delicious, comfort food.  Tahini and honey based helva or halva, is a delicious treat enjoyed in Turkey; I especially love the baked tahini halva served in kebab houses and restaurants at home, such a heavenly taste.

Helva, the Turkish name, derives from the Arabic ‘halva’ meaning ‘sweet confection’. Halva is a very popular candy in Turkey, Armenia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East served in cafes and kebab houses. Halva is made primarily with honey and tahini and there are many variations of it.  In the old days they would grind oily sesame seeds into a paste (tahini) and then mix it with hot honey.  Nowadays prepared tahini is widely available in Middle Eastern stores abroad and at online stores like Best Turkish Food. Aside from the plain version of this sweet and flaky sesame based confection, there are many popular variations of Halva including chocolate and pistachio. The Turkish food store in North Cheam (address: 565-567 London Road, SM3 9AG, North Cheam) in the U.K. also carries Halva in packs.

This nut-butter-based Halva is made from tahini/tahin (sesame paste) or other nut butters e.g. sunflower seed butter with primary ingredients of nut butter, glucose and sugar or honey. This halva has a dry, crumbly texture and keeps in the fridge well for a long time. You can slice the halva and have with crackers or toasted slice of bread; the taste is just wonderful.

Baked tahini halva or helva with sauteed pine nuts, firinda tahin helvasi

Baked tahini halva or helva with sauteed pine nuts, firinda tahin helvasi

I was inspired by dear fellow blogger, Claudia for this delicious recipe and slightly adapted with the addition of pine nuts. Please check her wonderful blog, A Seasonal Cook in Turkey, where Claudia uses the seasonal produce in Turkey for her delicious recipes.

Here I chose to bake the tahini halva in the oven with sautéed pine nuts over the top. This dessert takes only minutes to make and it is so delicious; great for sharing with friends and family. The sautéed pine nuts add a lovely additional flavor and texture; I hope you enjoy it.

Serves 6

350g  precooked helva/halva– plain or with nuts

juice of half a lemon

100ml/4fl oz. whole milk

For sautéed pine nuts:

30ml/2 tbsp. pine nuts and drizzle of light olive oil

Ground cinnamon to serve

Plain crackers to serve

Preheat oven to 200C/400F

Mash the helva with a fork and then add the other ingredients, for a loose hummus consistency.

Mash the helva with a fork and then add the other ingredients, for a loose hummus consistency.

Mash the helva with a fork and then add the other ingredients. If you like, use an electric hand mixer to reach a smooth consistency which should become like ‘a loose hummus’. Pour into a large baking dish or 6 individual or small ovenproof dishes. Sprinkle with cinnamon and place in the hot oven for about 5 –  10 minutes, depending on how deep you filled the ramekins.

Sauteed pine nuts add a lovely texture and taste to the halva.

Sauteed pine nuts add a lovely texture and taste to the halva.

In the meantime, sauté the pine nuts in a drizzle of light olive oil for a few minutes in a pan, until they are golden.

Baked tahini helva with pine nuts, firinda tahin helvasi

Baked tahini helva with pine nuts, firinda tahin helvasi

Once the halva is baked, sprinkle the sautéed pine nuts over the halva and serve hot, with plain crackers by the side.

A heavenly taste of baked tahini halva with pine nuts, firinda tahin helvasi

A heavenly taste of baked tahini halva with pine nuts, firinda tahin helvasi

 

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 

 

 

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Semolina Halva with Pine Nuts – Irmik Helvasi

The semolina halva, Irmik Helvasi, is amongst the foods  that is dear to my heart. I love the comforting Semolina (Irmik) halva and its inviting aroma takes me right back home. Semolina Halva is also the traditional dessert during religious occasions and Holy Nights in Islam, where it is customary to share the halva with family and friends.

Buttery semolina with crunchy pine nuts and cinnamon, delicious and comforting - takes me right back home

Buttery semolina with crunchy pine nuts and cinnamon, delicious and comforting – takes me right back home

Irmik Helvasi, Semolina halva is one of the most well known halvas in Turkey. Halva (helva) signifies good fortune and is made not only during religious festivals, but also events like moving houses. It is also traditional for a bereaved family to offer semolina halva to friends when a family member passes away.

Although Irmik helvasi, Semolina Halva, is made with such simple ingredients like semolina, butter, sugar and pine nuts, it requires skill to get it right and is regarded by some as a culinary masterpiece. The silky blend of buttery semolina with crunchy pine nuts offers such a wonderful blend of texture and taste; the dust of cinnamon over halva complements really well too.

Many versions of semolina halva are available in different cuisines; Turkish version of semolina halva uses coarse semolina, rather than the semolina flour. You can find coarse semolina in Turkish, Middle Eastern shops; even at shops specializing in Mediterranean cuisine. In the US, the online Turkish store Tulumba.com also carries coarse semolina.

I hope you enjoy this comforting, delicious semolina halva.

Adapted from Ghillie Basan’s The Complete Book of Turkish Cooking

Serves 6-8

110gr/4oz/1/2 cup butter

60ml/4 tbsp light olive oil

450gr/1 lb. /scant 2 ¾ cups coarse semolina – irmik –

45ml/3 tbsp pine nuts

900ml/1 ½ pints/ 3 ¾ cups milk – whole milk preferred-

335gr/12oz/1 ½ cup sugar

10 ml/ 2 tsp ground cinnamon to decorate

15ml/1 tbsp sautéed pine nuts to decorate – optional

 

Stir in the pine nuts and semolina to cook with the butter and olive oil.

Stir in the pine nuts and semolina to cook with the butter and olive oil.

Melt the butter and olive oil in a heavy pan, stir in the pine nuts and semolina and cook over a medium heat, stirring all the time, until lightly browned.

In the same time, warm the milk in a separate pan and stir in the sugar, mix well and let the sugar dissolve. Turn the heat off once the milk is hot (but not boiling) and sugar is dissolved.

Pour the milk & sugar mixture into semolina & pine nuts mixture and lover the heat. Mix well and cook over low heat until the milk has been absorbed; stirring continuously for about 10-15 minutes. Turn the heat off. Place a paper towel over the pan and cover with the lid, let the helva rest for about 10 minutes – the paper towel will absorb all the excess moisture-.

If you like, sauté 1 tablespoon pine nuts in a drizzle of olive oil for a few minutes. Spoon the semolina halva into individual bowls, and serve with a dust of cinnamon and a few sauteed pine nuts over them.

Coarse Semolina Halva - Irmik Helvasi

Coarse Semolina Halva – Irmik Helvasi

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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