Courgette, lentils, Swiss chard and peppers cooked in olive oil; Kabakli, Mercimekli Mualla
I love Antakya’s traditional Patlicanli Mercimekli Mualla (as featured at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table); it has been very popular with the readers and at my cookery classes. While I was in Guru’s Place Cookery School in Kalkan, Turkey for my cookery class last year, a Turkish lady there saw our Aubergine with lentils dish and said that she makes another version with courgettes and adds pazi (similar to Swiss card to it); she said it is really lovely too. So inspired by her kind recommendation, here is my Courgette, lentils, Swiss chard and peppers cooked in olive oil, Kabakli Mercimekli Mualla. And I must say, it is another scrumptious dish. This time, I baked this dish in the oven; baking brought a lovely sweetness to the courgette, peppers and onions and dried mint added delicious freshness. We make this recipe using the Turkish Zeytinyagli method (Vegetables cooked in olive oil) and it’s important to let the dish cool in the pan so it can rest and the flavors develop. Once cooked, it keeps well in the fridge for 2-3 days, great for entertaining. It is packed with flavor and wholesome, also gluten-free and plant based.
Recipe type: Vegetarian and Vegan
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 6
  • 175g/6oz green lentils, rinsed
  • 4-5 medium courgette/zucchini
  • 2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 200gr/7oz Swiss chard or pazi, washed and roughly chopped
  • 400g/14oz (1 can of) chopped tomatoes in juice
  • 60ml/2fl oz olive oil
  • 240ml/8fl oz water
  • 45ml/3 tablespoons olive oil (to par bake courgettes and peppers)
  • 5ml/1 teaspoon salt
  • 5ml/1 teaspoon granulated sugar (optional)
  • 10ml/2 teaspoons dried mint
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F
  2. Put the green lentils in a pan of boiling water, stir and cover. Simmer and par boil in low heat for 15 -20 minutes. Drain the water and set aside.
  3. Cut the courgettes in half lengthways and cut each half into medium slices, about ½ cm, 0.2”. Spread them on a wide tray, sprinkle salt over and leave aside for 10 minutes. Using a paper towel, gently squeeze the excess water out of the courgette/zucchini.
  4. Combine the sliced peppers and courgettes in an oven tray. Drizzle the 3 tbsp./45ml olive oil over them. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix well. Par bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes; this will help courgettes and peppers to soften up and start bringing out their lovely sweet flesh.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the partially cooked lentils, onion, garlic, chopped Swiss chard, chopped tomatoes, salt, dried mint, olive oil and the sugar (if used). Season with ground black pepper, check the seasoning and add more salt if needed.
  6. In a deep baking dish, place a layer of the par baked courgette and pepper slices. Spread the half of the vegetable and lentil mixture over evenly. Place the remainder of the courgette and pepper slices over the top and spread the remaining vegetable & lentil mixture over also. Add the water, cover with foil and bake at the preheated oven (180C/350F) for about 30 minutes. Then take the foil off and bake for further 10-15 minutes, or until lentils and vegetables fully cooked and have started to have a nice crispy coating.
  7. Once cooked, leave to cool at the baking dish: this will allow the flavors to develop and blend well. Serve at room temperature (or if preferred warm) with some crusty bread. This lovely dish can be served as a vegetarian main course or can accompany grills as a side.
  8. Afiyet Olsun.
Recipe by Ozlem's Turkish Table at