Cookery Classes

I teach Turkish cooking classes in England,Turkey & USA, hope you can join us!,
Find Out More

Recipes    

Turkish cuisine provides healthy, hearty, delicious food for family and friends.
Find out more

Turkish Menu Ideas

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

Continue Reading

Healthy, Delicious and Easy Turkish Menu Ideas for Every Taste

I have been asked by a few readers to give some Turkish menu ideas to enjoy with family and friends. Most Turkish food is easy to prepare and can also be prepared ahead of time. I hope the below ideas may inspire you to have a go at delicious, wholesome and easy to prepare Turkish food. Using seasonal produce, healthy grains and naturally flavoring with spices, olive oil and sauces like pomegranate molasses, you can create delicious, wholesome and balanced Turkish meals for family and friend easily.

A Classic Turkish Menu; from Soup to Dessert

Ezo Gelin Corba, Turkish red lentil and bulgur soup, flavored with dried mint and red pepper flakes.

Ezo Gelin Corba, Turkish red lentil and bulgur soup, flavored with dried mint and red pepper flakes.

Soups have a special place in Turkish cuisine and the meals mostly start with them. In Anatolia, it is very common to have soup to start the day, especially in winter. In my parents’ home, no matter how extensive dinner menu we is, soup like this Ezo Gelin Corba would always be the one to welcome everyone, along with Pide Bread. There would be a type of borek, savory pastry with fillings, a Zeytinyagli, vegetables cooked in olive oil, made with seasonal vegetables and a mezze, appetizer. Then the main course could be either a casserole, stew or a home style tray bake kebab. Most Turks these days may skip the dessert, unless it is a special family gathering or have a light one like this stuffed baked apricot or sliced seasonal fruits, as in our house.

Stuffed peppers and tomatoes in ground meat and aromatic rice; Dolma

Stuffed peppers and tomatoes in ground meat and aromatic rice; Dolma

Turkish Spicy Bulgur and Lentil Soup – Ezo Gelin Corba
Spinach and feta filo tray bake – Ispanakli, Peynirli Borek
Warm Hummus in red pepper flakes infused olive oil
Green Beans with onions, garlic and tomatoes, cooked in olive oil – Zeytinyagli Taze Fasulye
Stuffed tomatoes and peppers with ground meat, onions and aromatic rice – Dolma
Baked stuffed dried apricots with walnuts – Cevizli Kuru Kayisi Tatlisi

Vegetarian Turkish meal menu

Turkish cuisine is based on seasonal produce and there are many delicious vegetarian courses on offer. From stuffed pides to vegetables cooked in olive oil, yoghurt based dips to pilafs with vegetables and more, there are plenty, delicious choices. Here’s my selection; the list includes a family favorite from Antakya, Eggplants cooked with lentils, onions and peppers – Patlicanli, Mercimekli Mualla; a heavenly, delicious meal that melts in the mouth.

Eggplants, lentils and peppers cooked in olive oil; Patlicanli, Mercimekli Mualla

Eggplants, lentils and peppers cooked in olive oil; Patlicanli, Mercimekli Mualla

Turkish oval flat breads with spinach, peppers and feta cheese topping, Peynirli Pide
Eggplants cooked with lentils, onions and peppers in olive oil – Patlicanli, Mercimekli Mualla
Cacik dip of yoghurt, cucumber and dried mint
Bulgur Pilaf with vegetables – Sebzeli Bulgur Pilavi
Semolina Sponge Cake in syrup – Revani

Semolina sponge cake in syrup, Revani

Semolina sponge cake in syrup, Revani

Festive Turkish Meal Menu

Walnut and red pepper paste dip; Muhammara or Cevizli Biber

Walnut and red pepper paste dip; Muhammara or Cevizli Biber

This is a festive menu that appears at my mother’s table at every special occasion and gatherings. With our roots going back to Antakya, southern part of Turkey, the menu is naturally inspired by our home town. The walnuts and red pepper paste dip, Muhammara is a special favorite and makes a great appetizer, served with homemade pide bread. Upside down rice with layers of sautéed meat, eggplants and potatoes, Mevlubi, is my mother’s signature dish; a special, impressive dish that is perfect for entertaining. Having rice, meat and vegetables in it makes Mevlubi a complete course too. Kunefe, pastry strands soaked in syrup with melted cheese would be the ultimate dessert for this festive meal.

Red pepper paste and walnut dip – Cevizli Biber or Muhammara
Homemade Turkish flat pide bread, Pide Ekmek
Spicy bulgur wheat salad with pomegranate molasses – Kisir
Stuffed grape vine leaves with aromatic rice and herbs – Sarma
Upside down rice with layers of meat, eggplant and potatoes – Mevlubi
Pastry Strands in syrup with melted cheese – Kunefe

Kunefe, Kadayifi - a glorious dessert that would make any day special.

Kunefe, Kadayifi; pastry strands in syrup with melted cheese – a glorious dessert that would make any day special.

Mezze based Turkish Meal Menu

Baked prawns with tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms and cheese - Karides Guvec

Baked prawns with tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms and cheese – Karides Guvec

I love the small plates of mezzes in Turkish cuisine, probably my favorite style of enjoying Turkish food. Dips, salads, borek pastries, vegetables cooked in olive oil, mini meatballs, and oven baked shrimp casserole all adore the tables as “starters” and shared amongst the guests. I love them so much that I tend to have a variety of them as my main course. Here is a delicious selection for you to create at your home. Turkish coffee accompanied by Turkish delight would be the ultimate end to this Turkish meal, shared in good company of friends and family:

Filo rolls with feta and parsley, Sigara boregi
Borlotti beans cooked in olive oil – Barbunya Pilaki
Shepherd’s Salad with diced cucumbers, tomatoes, onions with olive oil and sumac – Coban Salatasi
Baked shrimp casserole with peppers, mushroom and cheese – Karides Guvec
Baked Mini meatballs in tomato and pepper sauce – Domates ve biber soslu mini kofte
Potato, red onion and olive bake with cumin and chili flakes
Turkish Coffee
Homemade Turkish Delight

Baked mini Turkish meatballs in tomato and pepper sauce

Baked mini Turkish meatballs in tomato and pepper sauce

I do hope these delicious varieties of Turkish menus inspire you; you can pick and choose the dishes that suit your taste and needs, I hope you enjoy them. My cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland, also have a Suggested Menus chapter with wonderful menus for different dieatary needs and occasions. Signed copies of my cookery book is available at this link.

Signed copies of Ozlem’s Turkish Table book, available to order at this link

 

Deliciously frothy Turkish Coffee; more than a drink

Deliciously frothy Turkish Coffee; more than a drink

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Continue Reading