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Exclusive recipe from my new cookery book SEBZE – Turkish Şakşuka

Merhaba dear All,

It’s not long now for the worldwide publication of my new cookery book, SEBZE, Vegetarian recipes from my Turkish kitchen in April 2024 and I am giddy with excitement to share this special book with you all. You can pre-order your copy here, and we would greatly appreciated, as pre-orders help new books greatly.

There are 85 scrumptious vegetarian Turkish recipes in SEBZE. We have a rich and diverse regional cuisine, which I have researched extensively. SEBZE includes lesser-known regional specialties along with popular Turkish recipes and a few of my own creations. Many of the recipes complement one another and leftovers can be repurposed for other delicious meals with ease. There are plenty, easy one pot recipes, as well as recipes that suit gluten-free and plant-based diets too.

I wanted to share with you dear readers, an exclusive recipe from my new cookery book, SEBZE, Turkish Şakşuka; Baked Aubergines, Courgettes, Peppers with Tomato Sauce.

You might know Shakshuka (meaning ‘all mixed up’) as a popular dish in the Middle East of eggs cooked in tomato sauce, peppers, herbs and sometimes onions. For us Turks, though, the name and dish Şakşuka refers to this delicious, summery meze of aubergines (eggplant) and peppers cooked in olive oil, served with a tomato-based sauce. Vegetables are traditionally shallow-fried in olive oil for this recipe, although for a lighter and equally tasty option, I prefer to bake them in the oven. I added courgettes (zucchini) here too, following my mother’s recipe.

I suggest to serve this with the nutty Muhammara  and Kekikli, Pul Biberli Fırın Patates, my Baked potato chips with pul biber and oregano, both from SEBZE; they complement Şakşuka like a dream.

Turkish Şakşuka; Baked Aubergines, Courgettes, Peppers with Tomato Sauce

Prepare ahead: You can prepare Şakşuka a day ahead and keep covered in the refrigerator.

 Serves 2–3

 1 large aubergine (eggplant), partially peeled in stripes and trimmed

1 medium courgette (zucchini), cut into 1 cm (½ in) slices

1 red (bell) pepper, deseeded and cut into 3 cm (1 in) chunks

2–3 chillies or Turkish sivri biber, deseeded and sliced in half lengthways

4 tablespoons olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

flatbreads, to serve

For the tomato sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 garlic cloves, crushed with salt and finely chopped

400 g (14 oz) tin chopped tomatoes

2 teaspoons Turkish red pepper paste (biber salçası, see page xx for homemade) (or double concentrated tomato paste, for a milder flavour)

½ teaspoon pul biber or red pepper flakes (optional)

small handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the garlicky yoghurt sauce

200 g (7 oz/generous ¾ cup) thick and creamy plain yoghurt (or plant-based alternative)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 200°C fan/220°C/425°F/gas 7.

Cut the peeled aubergine in half lengthways, then cut each half into 1 cm (½ in) slices. Place them on a large tray, sprinkle with salt and set aside for 10 minutes. Salt will help the moisture come out of the aubergines. Dry thoroughly with paper towels.

On a large baking tray, arrange the aubergine slices with the sliced courgette, pepper and chillies on the tray in one layer. Coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Rub the seasoning and oil into the vegetables with your hands. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven, remove the pepper strips and place on a large serving plate. Turn the aubergine and courgette slices and bake for a further 10 minutes until charred at edges and cooked through. Place alongside the peppers on the serving plate.

While the vegetables are baking, make the tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil in a wide pan over a medium heat, add the garlic and sauté for a minute, then add the chopped tomatoes and the pepper paste (or double concentrated tomato paste) and mix well. Cook for 3–4 minutes until the sauce thickens. Stir in the pul biber (if using) and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from the heat.

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

Spoon the tomato sauce over the top of the cooked vegetables. Serve with the yoghurt sauce on the side, accompanied by flatbreads to mop up the tasty sauce.

Ozlem at Meric Ciftligi – Altinouzu, Antakya, from SEBZE. Image credit Sam A Harris

SEBZE  is a recipe collection built with convenience and flavour in mind, inspired by my homeland’s rich and diverse culinary heritage. I hope you will embark on a culinary journey to my homeland, to discover a selection of delightful, achievable vegetarian recipes, with stunning food and location photography.

From my kitchen to yours – Afiyet Olsun, as we say in Turkish – may you be happy and healthy with this food and enjoy your copy of SEBZE.

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