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Tag Archives | Turkish mezzes

Zucchini (Courgette) Fritters flavored with Feta and Dill – Kabak Mucveri

I have been looking at the previous recipes I posted and thought these zucchini fritters are really worth revisiting. The trick with them is to make sure you squeeze out any excess water from the zucchini, after grating. Hope you give them a go sometime and enjoy!

Zucchini are the most widely available squash in Turkey. They are very versatile, used in many dishes and their flowers are perfect for stuffing. This wonderful vegetarian fritters are fantastic accompanied by garlic infused yoghurt or a leafy salad and crusty bread. You can enjoy them as a meze/appetizer for supper or light lunch dish. The bite size versions would be a great party / finger food too. They are also wonderful served next day as a cold snack.

If you are after a lighter flavor, you can bake the spread in a greased baking dish (at 180 C / 350 F) for about 35-40 minutes, like my mother does. You can then cut in squares and serve.


Serves 4 – 6
Preparation time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 25-30 minutes

3 medium zucchini (courgette), grated
150 gr / 6 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
3 green (spring) onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bunch dill, finely chopped
3 eggs, beaten
45 ml / 3 tablespoons all purpose (plain) white flour
Pinch of paprika or red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Canola oil (or sunflower oil) for shallow frying
Sprigs of dill for garnish

Garlic yoghurt to serve (optional)

Place the grated zucchini in a colander, sprinkle with a little salt and leave to drain for 15 minutes. In a separate bowl, crumble or grate the feta cheese.

Using a tea towel, squeeze out any excess water from the zucchini and put in a bowl.

Transfer the flour to a large bowl and beat in the eggs. Add the remaining ingredients, season with salt and pepper and beat into a batter (Take care not to add salt if your cheese is salty). Mix well.

In a frying pan, heat enough oil to shallow fry. Using a tablespoon, drop the spoonfuls of batter mix into the hot oil. Fry over a medium heat on both sides until golden brown. Remove with a straining spoon and drain on absorbent kitchen paper towel.

This meze (appetizer) can be enjoyed warm or you can make it in advance, and serve as a cold meze. Garnish with sprigs of dill and accompany with garlic infused yoghurt.

For garlic infused yoghurt, crush a couple of garlic cloves with salt. Combine the plain yoghurt and garlic and beat until smooth. Add salt to taste.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Note: Squash is an effective diuretic and its potassium content benefits those with high blood pressure. Dill is known to aid digestion.

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Sautéed Aubergine (Eggplant), Courgette (Zucchini) and Peppers with Tomato Sauce-Saksuka

Patlicanli, kabakli saksuka; fried eggplants and zucchini in tomato and red pepper paste sauce

Patlicanli, kabakli saksuka; fried eggplants, peppers and zucchini in tomato and red pepper paste sauce

This is one of the most popular mezes, appetizers at home, featuring our beloved eggplant (aubergine). It is delicious and easy to make. Garlicky yoghurt accompanies this dish really well. I like to add a little Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi to it; it really adds a wonderful flavor. If you like to make your own red pepper paste, here is my recipe.

One of the joys in life for me is to cook and eat with friends and family. The life evolves around kitchen, children come and go and you get to cook with those dear to you, simply wonderful. We made and enjoyed this dish with friends this week; in Turkish we say “the food tastes better when shared” and it sure did.

Serves 4
Preparation time: 25 minutes Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

1 large aubergine (eggplant)
1 courgette (zucchini)
1 red bell pepper
2-3 chili peppers (as hot as you wish), kept whole
Sunflower oil for shallow frying
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

For the tomato sauce:
400gr/14oz can of chopped tomatoes

10ml/2tsp. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi (optional)
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed with salt
5ml/1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
15ml/1tablespoon olive oil
Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Garlicky yoghurt sauce:
200ml/7fl oz thick and creamy natural plain yoghurt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 200 C/400F (if you prefer to roast the vegetables)

Using a vegetable peeler, partially peel the aubergine in stripes. Cut the aubergine in half length ways and then cut each half into thick slices. Sprinkle salt over the eggplants and leave them aside for 15 minutes. Salt will help the moisture come out of the eggplants. Dry the eggplants with kitchen towel thoroughly (otherwise the excess water will cause the hot oil to spatter everywhere).

Cut the courgette in half lengthways and then cut it width ways into thick slices. Deseed the red bell pepper and cut it into bite size pieces.

Heat enough oil in a wide pan. Sauté the vegetables in batches until they are golden brown. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towel. Lightly season with salt and ground black pepper.  Alternatively, if you prefer to roast the vegetables, you can spread the sliced vegetables on a roasting tray and coat them with olive oil (about 2-3 tbsp) and season with salt and black pepper. You can then roast the vegetables in the preheated oven for about 35-40 minutes until they start to turn golden brown.

On a separate pan, sauté the garlic for a minute or so with the olive oil. Add the canned tomatoes and the hot pepper paste (if you are using) and mix well. Stir in the red pepper flakes and the parsley. Add salt and pepper to your taste. The tomato sauce is ready.

For the yoghurt sauce, beat the yoghurt with the garlic and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pile the hot vegetables on to a serving dish and spoon the tomato sauce over the top. Serve the yoghurt sauce by the side, accompanied by chunks of fresh bread to mop up the tasty sauce.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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Walnut and Red Pepper Paste Dip, Muhammara or Cevizli Biber



This is one of my favorite mezes of all time; it is very easy to make and very, very more-ish, you just can’t stop eating them. It is one of my mother’s recipes from her historic hometown Antakya (Antioch) and whenever I make it, I feel like I am home.

Tahini bread or pita bread would go really well with this delicious dip/spread. You can keep the dip covered in the fridge for 3-4 days. Middle Eastern stores or specialty stores usually carry the red pepper paste. If you can’t find it, there is a recipe for red pepper paste, biber salcasi.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Serves 4-6

3-4 slices of white or wholemeal stale bread (about 70 gr)
1/3 yellow onion (or little less), chopped
45ml/3 tablespoons Turkish red pepper paste (or 1 1/2 tablespoon Amore chili paste)

1/2 tablespoon concentrated tomato paste
225gr/8oz English walnuts, shelled
10ml / 2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of Salt
60ml/4tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
15ml/1 tablespoon water

To serve:
15ml/1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1-2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Pita bread, tahini bread or crackers

Ground the walnuts with the onion, cumin, salt and red pepper paste and tomato paste in the food processor. Soak the bread into water and squeeze the excess water. Crumble the bread and add to the mixture in the food processor. Add the olive oil and water and blend to make a smooth spread. If it appears to be too thick, add a little more olive oil.

Place the spread on a small salad plate or bowl. Pour the extra virgin olive oil all over and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Serve the spread with pita bread, tahini bread or wide crackers.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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