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Wholesome, Easy Turkish Food Ideas for Extraordinary Times

Merhaba Dear All,

Indeed extraordinary, uncertain times and I hope this post finds you all well. We are all doing our best, taking precautions, and making every effort to support family, friends and loved ones, in the growing rise  of Covid-19. We have been trying our best to help out especially the elderly and the vulnerable, helping with their food shopping, dropping meals to their door.

Many healthy experts say that one of the most important things we can do now is to boost our immune system with healthy eating. We are lucky as Turkish cuisine follows Mediterranean diet, based on seasonal produce, wholesome grains, legumes, flavouring naturally with olive oil, nuts, natural condiments. Just having a look at this sunny Turkish breakfast lifts my spirits and showcases how healthy Turkish food is. Please remember, there are over 100 healthy, wholesome, easy to make Turkish and Mediterranean recipes at my blog here, with free access to you all, I truly hope it inspires and brings comfort.

I have noted below a few pantry staples I always keep in hand; you can turn them into delicious, wholesome meals without breaking the bank. A dear reader, Sally, yesterday sent me a note, saying You remain by my side in troubled times with your inspirational, happy food”, which made my day. I have included recipe links from my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table,  at this post, do hope they inspire you too. Please remember, times like this, we may not have an access to all the vegetables and grains but we will make the most of what we have, be creative and substitute when needed.

With this note, Happy coming Mother’s Day to all mothers celebrating, in good health and happiness; we may not be by the side of our dear mothers to protect their well being, but they will all be in our heart and thoughts; I will be drinking my mother’s favourite Turkish coffee for her across the ocean and will send a virtual hug. If you would like to gift my cookery book, signed copies of my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, is now 10 % off at this link, and it is delivered worldwide.

Eat a rainbow of vegetables

All health experts say eat colourful fruit and veg to boost immune system; Turkish cuisine is based on seasonal produce and we use a large variety of vegetables in our diet. As it is extraordinary times, please substitute with whatever veg you find in your recipes.

Special mention here for garlic; in ancient times, it was used as a medicine to treat a variety of medical conditions. it is highly nutritious, rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6 and manganese, great, fantastic value ingredient to boost your immune system. Another great pantry staple also worth a mention is canned tomatoes; they are not only great value but (just like fresh, in season ones) are low in calories and packed with vitamin C and fiber. Canned tomatoes (as opposed to fresh) are an excellent source of the antioxidant lycopene, shown to help lower the risk of heart disease and various other ilnesses. Needless to say, we use plenty of garlic and tomatoes in all form in Turkish cuisine.

Baked prawns (or any small chunks of fish) casserole with mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic, peppers – Karides Guvec

Turkish style shrimp casserole with vegetables, Karides Guvec

This is a very popular one pot dish served in fish restaurants at home and combines high nutrition with great taste. You can use small chunks of fish instead of prawns (in that case, please cook the fish in the vegetable sauce for 15 minutes, before further baking with the cheese additional 10 minutes. Always check the sea food packaging for advised cooking times). Or opt out fish and shellfish for a vegetarian option. Here is my recipe link; it is also at Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book, page 239.

Baked Turkish Meatballs with vegetables – Firinda Sebzeli Kofte – Great for freezing too!

A wonderful all in one pot dish to please the family – a great one for bulk cooking and freezing in portions. Again, use any veg you can get hold of; I add a can of cooked (and rinsed) chickpeas for extra nutrition and bulk it up too. If preferred, keep it vegetarian without the meatballs, and include cooked chickpeas or beans instead. Here is my recipe link, also at page 179 of Ozlem’s Turkish Table. You can serve with Cacik dip with cucumber and yoghurt – again, very healthy, full of gut friendly bacteria.

Aubergine, lentils and peppers cooked in olive oil – Mercimekli Mualla

We love aubergine / eggplant or as we call it, patlican, in Turkey. This delicious recipe is from my southern Turkish roots, from Antakya- dried mint, healthy olive oil, flavours lentils and veg so beautifully here. You can prep ahead of time and once cooked, it can be kept in the fridge for a good 2-3 days. It is also vegan and gluten free. Here’s my recipe link (also at page 151 of Ozlem’s Turkish Table) . You can make another version using courgette/ zucchini, equally delicious and wholesome, with my recipe here

Power of legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils), bulgur, whole grains

Legumes, whole grains, bulgur are an important part of Turkish diet and I am a huge fan of them. They are packed with goodness, convenient and great value. At times like this, always keep dried or canned version of legumes. I also love the nutty flavour of bulgur; it is wholesome and so versatile. Here are some ideas for you to turn them into delicious, nutritious meals:

Spicy bulgur and lentil soup – Ezo Gelin Corbasi

Spicy bulgur and lentil soup, Ezo Gelin Corbasi

One of our favourite soups of all times; such a tasty, wholesome, fantastic value soup, so easy to make. Make a big batch as it freezes very well, here is my recipe link (also at page 47 of Ozlem’s Turkish Table).  If you like to make it gluten free, use quinoa instead of bulgur – my recipe link is here for this gluten free version

Turkish bean salad with sumac spiced onions, tomatoes, olives – Fasulye Piyazi

This traditional beans salad, Fasulye Piyazi, is a meal in itself and turns the humble beans into an exciting and vibrant salad. Canned cannelini beans would work well here. You can flavour your red onions with the tangy sumac here and add a little heat with pul biber, Turkish red pepper flakes – so good, easy and wholesome. Here is my recipe link (also at page 90 of Ozlem’s Turkish Table)

Bulgur wheat salad with pomegranate molasses  – Kisir

Fun baking with children – try this delicious Gozleme!

With children now off school, you may enjoy making this delicious Gozleme, Anatolian flat breads with fillings with them. Any veg in hand can make a filling – left over mashed potato, sauteed leeks, mushrooms, peppers.. etc. Great activity with kids, learning a new skill and very satisfying, here is my recipe link here (also at Ozlem’s Turkish Table, page 113)

Flavouring through spices, naturally

You can add so much flavour to your dishes, naturally, through spices, they have a lot of health benefits too. For instance, it is the warm, pungent cumin simply transforms hummus, when combined with tahini. You can also prepare a red pepper flakes infused olive oil and drizzle over hummus – it is a delicious, wholesome dip you can easily make at home, using a can of precooked chickpeas, my recipe is here if you like.

How about this Leafy greens with onions, peppers and pine nuts, an inspiration from my home town, Antakya? Any greens would work – kale, Swiss chard, spinach all work. A sprinkle of pul biber, Turkish red pepper flakes adds a delicious heat to this lovely recipe. You can make it a substantial meal with adding bulgur to it (and hot water). My recipe is at this link here if you’d like to give a go (also at page 153 of Ozlem’s Turkish Table)

Dried fruit and nuts

Baked dried apricots with walnuts, from Ozlem’s Turkish Table

We consume a lot of nuts – almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts and more – and dried fruit (dried apricots, figs etc) in Turkish cuisine. They are packed with nutrition, goodness and make a wholesome snack. If you’d like a healthy dessert, why not try this Baked dried apricots with walnuts; it is so easy to make, healthy and delicious. My recipe link is here (also at page 271 of Ozlem’s Turkish Table)

 

Finishing off here with my favourite drink, as well as my mother’s, Turkish coffee, Turk kahvesi, more than a drink for us, as it always evokes special memories.  Even if we are away from one another, staying at our homes, love of good food and sharing connects us all and brings happy memories. The rituals of Turkish coffee, that is staying in the moment, slowing down and enjoying every sip thinking of loved ones, is very suitable for the current times. May you enjoy yours and hope it brings comfort.

My very best wishes to you all, please stay well and Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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Spiced bulgur balls over garlic yoghurt with spinach – Arap Koftesi and more

Merhaba dear All,

Spiced Bulgur balls over garlicky yoghurt and spinach, Arap Koftesi

Our Turkish cookery course in Amman – Jordan, with wonderful participants and Panthera Jordan

It has been a very special few days, as I traveled to Amman – Jordan for our 2 day Turkish cookery course; my sincere thanks to Panthera Jordan, dear Suhair Kilani for organising our wonderful course and all the amazing participants, it was a very memorable trip. One of the recipes from our Turkish cookery course, Spiced Bulgur balls over garlicky yoghurt and spinach, Arap Koftesi, was a big hit with the participants and I wanted to share with you all here, in this post. Bulgur balls here are deliciously flavoured with dried mint, cumin and red pepper flakes; served over garlicky yoghurt with spinach, it makes a wonderful and impressive vegetarian course, hope you enjoy the recipe below.

Spiced bulgur balls over garlic yoghurt with spinach - Arap Koftesi and more
 
This is a wonderful, regional vegetarian recipe from southern Turkey, perfect for buffets and entertaining and you can also make the bulgur balls ahead of time and keep in the freezer.
Author:
Recipe type: Vegetarian
Cuisine: Turkish cuisine
Serves: 8 people
Ingredients
  • For the bulgur balls:
  • 340gr/2cups fine bulgur
  • 12fl oz/ 1 ½ cup hot water
  • 2 eggs
  • 45ml/3 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • ½ tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • For the yoghurt and greens sauce:
  • 500gr lambs lettuce or spinach leaves, washed and roughly chopped
  • 500gr/1 ¼ lb strained whole milk yoghurt
  • 2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • For the red pepper flakes and dried mint sauce:
  • • 30 gr butter
  • • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (please use ½ tablespoon if you like it less spicy, adjust to your taste)
  • • 1 tablespoon dried mint
Instructions
  1. Rinse the bulgur and place in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the hot water, cover and let the bulgur absorb the water; uncover, mix and let it cool.
  2. Then stir in the eggs, flour, tomato paste, salt, pepper, cumin and red pepper flakes. Have a bowl of cold water near you and knead the mixture well until all combined and smooth.
  3. Sprinkle a little flour on a tray where we will put our bulgur balls (this will help the bulgur balls not to stick together).
  4. Roll the bulgur balls as big as a cherry and place on the tray with flour.
  5. Have boiling water in a large pot, stir in a pinch of salt. Gently drop the bulgur balls in to the pan and let it cook, uncovered, on a medium heat, for 8 minutes or so; once cooked, you will see the bulgur balls rise to the top of the pan. Take out the cooked bulgur balls with a slotted spoon and place on a large plate.
  6. For the yoghurt and greens sauce; mix the garlic with the yoghurt. In a large bowl, combine the garlicy yoghurt with the chopped greens. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. For the red pepper flakes and dried mint sauce; melt the butter in a sauce pan and stir in the red pepper flakes and dried mint (please adjust the spice level to your taste). Gently stir in the bulgur balls and combine well with this sauce.
  8. Serve the sautéed bulgur balls over the garlicy yoghurt with greens, immediately.
  9. Afiyet Olsun.
 

Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book – 10 % off as a little gift from us for Mother’s Day –

Turkish coffee with my dear mother Gulcin, at my recent trip to Istanbul

We are delighted to offer 10 % off  on Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book for Mother’s Day celebrated globally on May 12th. The offer runs until the end of May 12th, 2019, as a little gift for all mothers and food lovers from us. Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book is inspired from the lovingly made and shared traditional and authentic Turkish recipes passed down to me from my mother, parents and my grandparents and it is a joy to share with you all. To redeem the 10 % discount, please enter the promo code: mothers-day at the check out, when ordering Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book. Happy Mother’s Day to all celebrating.

Ozlem’s Turkish Table podcast with Ghillie Basan – Now Live!

I had the huge pleasure and honor visiting dear Ghillie Basan at her magical wilderness retreat at the Cairngorms National Park last year, where she recorded our wonderful podcast talking about Turkish cuisine, my cookery journey with #ozlemsturkishtable cookery book , growing up in Turkey, my roots from Antakya, stories from home, Turkish hospitality and many more, over a scrumptious Turkish spread we cooked from my cookery book ❤️💐🇹🇷 it was a very special time and I am still full of wonderful memories of our time together in Scotland. The podcast is now live, I copied the link here; I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed making the podcast.

Ozlem’s Turkish Table book signing, Supper Club and Cookery Classes in Fethiye

Our Turkish breakfast and Turkish cuisine talk at the Yakamoz Hotel

Ozlem’s Turkish Table book signing at Yakamoz Hotel

We had a magical few days in Fethiye end April, where I did a talk on Turkish cuisine over a scrumptious Turkish breakfast, very kindly hosted by Yakamoz Hotel in Fethiye, followed by Ozlem’s Turkish Table book signings. We also hosted a delicious Antakya style supper club at the wonderful Mozaik Bahce restaurant, with recipes from my book; Mozaik Bahce showcases one of the best examples of Antakya and southern Turkish cuisine and it has been such a pleasure to cook in the kitchen together. Last but not least, we did a hands on Turkish cookery class at the Yakamoz Hotel with their wonderful team; it was a very memorable class – so much that I am already looking forward to being back!

Our delicious Antakya style supper club at Mozaik Bahce – Fethiye

Talking about Turkish cuisine at Mozaik Bahce

Enjoying Mozaik Bahce’s scrumptious mezes

My sincere thanks to everyone joined us in Fethiye, and Yakamoz Hotel and Mozaik Bahce for their very kind hospitality. A very sincere thanks goes to dear Lyn Ward, owner of Fethiye Times , for all her kindness and support for our events, cok tesekkurler – can’t wait to return! A few photos from our memorable time in Fethiye.

Our very memorable Turkish cookery class at Yakamoz Hotel

Upcoming Events –

June 13th 2019; Turkish Feast Supper Club with Ozlem’s Turkish Table at Aromas, Weybridge –

We are delighted to inform you that we will be hosting a very special Turkish Feast Supper Club at the lovely Aromas Artisan Café in Weybridge (11 Church Street, Weybridge, KT13 8DE) on Thursday, June 13th evening, from 7.30 pm. This will be a special occasion, as we will be celebrating the general release of Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book and its 2nd print run with GB Publishing, and we would love to have you with us for a delicious Turkish feast and a toast with a bubbly to celebrate! We will also do a drawal amongst our guests at this special night and one lucky winner will receive a personalised signed copy of Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book to mark this special occasion.

Ozlem & Aromas Team will be preparing a feast from Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland, and we would be delighted to have you with us at this special evening. This event promises to be another popular one,  so if you’d like to join us, please book your spot with this Eventbrite link here :

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/turkish-feast-supper-club-lets-celebrate-with-ozlems-turkish-table-tickets-59432439025

 

Strolling through magical Galata, Istanbul

I hope you enjoy the post, recipes and photos from my homeland, Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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Baked beetroot with walnuts and pomegranate molasses

I hope you enjoy this delicious and wholesome Baked beetroot salad with walnuts and pomegranate molasses , so easy too.  We love beetroot, pancar, as we call in Turkish and I have been making this delicious baked beetroots with garlic, walnuts, pomegranate molasses dish a lot recently. It makes a wonderful meze, also accompanies pasta, rice and grills beautifully. It is also vegan and gluten free, and so easy to make. Here’s my recipe, if you’d like to give it a go.

Baked beetroot with garlic, walnuts, pomegranate molasses

5.0 from 2 reviews
Baked beetroot with walnuts and pomegranate molasses
 
We love beetroot, pancar, as we call in Turkish and I have been making this delicious baked beetroots with garlic, walnuts, pomegranate molasses dish a lot recently. It makes a wonderful meze, also accompanies pasta, rice and grills beautifully. It is also vegan and gluten free, and so easy to make. Here’s my recipe, if you’d like to give it a go.
Author:
Recipe type: Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free meze
Cuisine: Turkish cuisine
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 500gr/1.2oz beetroot, peeled and cut into bitesize chunks
  • 30ml/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 85gr/3oz walnuts, chopped
  • 15ml/1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 30ml/2 tbsp pomegranate seeds to decorate
  • Sprigs of flat leaf parsley to decorate
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 C/ 400 F
  2. Pour in the olive oil on a baking tray and stir in the beetroot, cut into bitesize chunks and chopped garlic to the tray. Coat them with the olive oil, season with salt and ground black pepper. Then roast in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes.
  3. Once cooked, let the beetroot & garlic cool in the tray, then transfer into a serving plate.
  4. Stir in the chopped walnuts and the pomegranate molasses, combine well.
  5. Decorate with pomegranate seeds and sprigs of parsley and serve.
  6. Afiyet Olsun.
 

I am passionate about delicious, wholesome Turkish cuisine and it is a pleasure to share authentic Turkish recipes from my southern Turkish roots. Over 90 authentic Turkish recipes are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table. Signed copies now 20 % off until end July 2019 from this link, and it is delivered worldwide, including the US, if you’d like to get a signed copy (please enter the promo code: summer-sale at the check out at this link, to get the 20 % discount).

I hope you enjoy it, Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 

 

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