Turkish cuisine is very much based on using fresh, seasonal ingredients. A daily trip to Pazar, fresh fruit and vegetable market is a ritual, most Turks do daily at home. Rather than having a recipe in mind, we go to the Market, Pazar, to see which vegetables are seasonal and freshly available in the market and then decide what we will be cooking accordingly.
I had one of these moments when we went to the Turkish Market in Cheam last week. It so wonderful to see great displays of different kinds of peppers (red pointy ones, slim long and spicy green peppers, small spicy peppers and small, less meaty green bell peppers which are great for stuffing), slim aubergines, vine tomatoes and.. baby artichokes.
I rarely can get baby artichokes at my local market, so seeing it was a real treat and the menu for that day is decided; poached baby artichokes in olive oil. We Turks love to poach especially the big, meaty globe artichokes in olive oil with vegetables, dressed with lemon juice and dill. This style of cooking in Turkish cuisine is called “vegetables cooked in olive oil”, and we enjoy them at room temperature or cold. Dressed with olive oil and lemon juice,they are not only very healthy but a joy to eat during summer time and can be kept in fridge 2-3 days.
I adapted this recipe from one of my favourite cookery author Ghillie Basan’s Complete Book of Turkish Cooking Book. Ghillie added blanched almonds to hers, a brilliant idea for added texture and flavour, worked really well in mine too. This dish would be a wonderful starter, a light lunch or a side dish and you will be creating a healthy, delicious dish using a few fresh ingredients – I hope you can give it a go sometime.
Preparation time: 25 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes
4 large globe artichokes or 10-12 baby artichokes
1 small cooked carrot,diced
90gr/3oz fresh peas (or frozen if you can’t get fresh peas)
75gr/3oz blanched or flaked almonds
Juice of 1 lemon
30ml/2 tablespoons olive oil
5m/teaspoon granulated sugar
15ml/1 tablespoon fresh dill,chopped
Salt to taste
Wedges of lemon to serve
First let’s prepare the artichokes. Cut off the stalks and pull off all the leaves. Dig out the hairy choke from the middle with a spoon (you don’t need to do this stage with baby artichokes). Then cut away any hard bits with a sharp knife and trim into a neat cup shape. Rub the cups – called bottoms – with a mixture of lemon juice and a little salt to prevent them from coloring (tip: until ready to use, fresh artichokes should be treated like flowers and put in a jug of water).
Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and stir in the artichokes in lemon sauce and the diced carrots. Pour 100ml/4fl oz/1/2cup water over the vegetables, combine well. Cover the pan and poach the vegetables gently for about 25 minutes. Then add the fresh or frozen peas, sugar and almonds, combine well. Cover again and continue to cook gently for another 5 minutes, until the artichokes are tender.
Toss in the dill, season with salt and turn off the heat. Leave to cool the artichokes in the pan.
Serve this delicious course at room temperature with wedges of lemon by the side.
You can enjoy this refreshing vegetable course as a starter or by the side of grilled meat, fish or pasta.
And a few more photos to share from the Cheam Market; the bakery is always a big hit with fresh flat breads, sesame seeded pastries, ekmek, Turkish loaf of bread and many more.
Simit is the quintessential Turkish food; these sesame-encrusted bread rings are the most popular snack at home, and they are easy to make too, here is the recipe, if you’d like to have a go.
Wishing you all a good week ahead, filled with delicious food to share!