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Nuria's Pesto Sauce

Welcome to the new look of Ozlem’s Turkish Table – or as we say in Turkish, Hosgeldiniz! I hope you like the new, fresh look of the blog! All the previous recipes are still here, and there is lots of useful info on Turkish cuisine, ingredients and many more. There is a link for our exciting Grand Turkey Tour in April (registration continues, please check out for more info), and photos of my previous Turkey tours to give you ideas. I am also excited to start the Turkish cooking classes in Surrey, England (and look forward to visiting the Central Market Cooking Schools in the US), and I will post info on cooking classes here. My huge thanks to Bella (from Highwire Creative, ) for her invaluable help to transform the site, and answering all my questions, big and small!:) My heartfelt thanks to all friends and family for their support; I hope this blog may inspire you to create some wonderful recipes and it helps you to explore fascinating places; as always, your comments and questions are always welcome!

I share Turkish and Mediterranean recipes thru my blog, and this time, I wanted to share a very special pesto recipe. My family loves pesto sauce, and we especially enjoy dear Nuria’s version a lot; she very kindly let me share the recipe with you all. Nuria likes to roast the pine nuts in pesto; she blends some of the pine nuts into the mixture and leaves some as whole over the sauce. This gives a variety of texture in the sauce and I love the smoky flavor of it.

Photo of Nuria's Pesto Sauce

Nuria’s Pesto Sauce

You can keep the pesto sauce in the fridge, sealed with a lid, for good 3-4 days. The fresh pesto sauce is great on pasta, grilled fish and roasted vegetables. Pesto sauce is easy to make and it tastes so much nicer and fresher when you make from scratch, hope you may give it a go.

Serves 2-3 people

(Makes about 4fl oz/125 ml / 1/2 cup pesto sauce)

Preparation time:15-20 minutes

45gr/1 1/2oz /1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves

4 tablespoon pine nuts (3 tablespoon to blend, 1 tablespoon to stay as whole)

1-2 cloves of garlic

3fl oz/80ml/1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

125gr/1/4lb parmesan (parmegiano reggiano) cheese, cut in small chunks

Sea salt to taste

Juice of 1/2 lemon – optional-

Dry roast the pine nuts in a small pan for 3-5 minutes, until they turn golden. Make sure to keep an eye on the pine nuts and stir frequently, as they can burn quickly. Remove from the heat.

In a food processor or blender, process the basil, 3 tablespoons of roasted pine nuts, parmesan, garlic and sea salt (about 1/2 teaspoon), for a few seconds, until they all blend and still a little coarse (I like the coarser texture of the mixture rather than smooth). Then with the motor running, pour in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, until all blends into a thick sauce. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the juice of lemon (if you like a little tangy taste to it). Taste and adjust the seasoning. Place the remaining roasted pine nuts over the sauce.

Enjoy the pesto sauce over grilled fish, roasted vegetables or over your favorite pasta.

Afiyet Olsun!


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Turkish Hot Pepper Paste – Biber Salcasi

Turkish Hot Red Pepper Paste – Biber Salcasi

Red pepper paste is being used a lot in southern Turkish cooking and with my roots being from there, I do use quite a lot too. It brings a wonderful, rich texture and flavor to salads like spicy bulgur wheat salad – kisir -, stews, meat marinating. At home, the ladies in the villages cook big batches of the spicy red peppers and spread them on the top of their terraces to dry out all the juices so that you get the wonderful, concentrated flavor of the hot red peppers. The dried red peppers, as I put a photo on the headline, are also such a wonderful landmark at home, you see them hanging on spice markets and bazaars all around, a feast to the eye and to your stomach!:)

The red pepper paste is available thru the Middle Eastern markets, and the Turkish website carries them too. In London, Tas Organic carries a wonderful red pepper paste in jars, and I have been very lucky to get great batches of them, thanks to my sweet sister-in-law, Judith. In the US, Phonecia Bakery (in Austin and Houston) and Sarah’s Deli in Austin carries them.

In case if you can’t get hot red pepper paste, here is a simple recipe (an adaptation from Greg and Lucy Malouf’s wonderful book, Turquoise) to make at home.

Serves 4 – 6

3 long red peppers
3 long red chiles, seeded
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Roast the peppers and the seeded chiles for 20 minutes on a tray. Turn them once, until the skins blister and char. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

When cool enough to handle, peel the skins away from the peppers and pull away the seeds and membranes. Roughly chop the peppers and put into a blender. Use a sharp knife to scrape the flesh of the chiles away from the skins – this is easier than trying to peel them – Whiz to a fine puree, then add the salt, pepper and the lemon juice. Cover and keep in the fridge. This should keep the fridge for a week or more.

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