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Green lentil salad with delicious sumac dressing & Our memorable trip to the States

Green lentils salad with vegetables and sumac & pomegranate molasses dressing; wholesome and refreshing

Green lentils salad with vegetables and sumac & pomegranate molasses dressing; wholesome and refreshing

Refreshing salads are the choice of food for us, especially during the hot summer days. We have been revisiting this lovely green lentils salad often recently; healthy green lentils make the salad wholesome and filling. They also pair with the vegetables so well. Dried lentils are a year-round staple in our kitchen, essential for delicious salads like this during hot weather and hearty soups, like this Spicy red lentils soup, Ezo Gelin Corba,  in the winter months.

I also added the aromatic fennel to this salad; its crunchy texture and mild anise flavor worked well in the salad. If you are not a big fan of fennel, simply omit it.

Tangy sumac adds a lemony, refreshing taste to salads.

Tangy sumac adds a lemony, refreshing taste to salads.

The star of the salad has been the delicious sumac; this tangy, lemony spice is often used in Mediterranean, Turkish and Middle Eastern cooking. Try this Piyaz salad with sumac, tomatoes and red onion slices with grilled vegetables and meat, utterly delicious. You can find sumac and pomegranate molasses at Middle Eastern or specialty stores (Whole Foods Market and Central Market carry sumac in the US). Turkish online supermarket Tulumba.com also have them  and I could find sumac in major supermarkets like Waitrose and Sainsburys in the UK.

I hope you enjoy this delicious, substantial salad. We had it with soft boiled eggs and pitta (or flat bread, pide bread) aside, it made a complete meal for us. Olives would also work well in this salad too. You can also serve this salad as an appetizer or with grilled meat, fish and vegetables.

Serves 2 -4

265 gr cooked green lentils, liquid drained and rinsed

2 spring (green onion), finely sliced

50gr baby spinach leaves

½ red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced

A handful (about 100 gr) radishes, coarsely chopped

1 small fennel, trimmed, halved and thinly sliced – optional

2 eggs

For the dressing:

15ml/1tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1-2 tsp. ground sumac

½ tbsp. pomegranate molasses or 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar – optional, for a sharper taste-

1 tsp. Turkish red pepper paste – optional

Salt and black pepper to taste

Boil the lentils in three times more water than the pulse for about 35 – 45 minutes. Drain the hot water and set the cooked lentils aside. If you are using pre-cooked lentils in can, drain its juice and rinse well.

Combine the red onions with the Turkish hot red pepper paste, Biber Salcasi, if you are using  and extra virgin olive oil and knead well with your hands; this will soften the onions and help the paste blend in well. Stir in the rest of the vegetables and the lentils.

Stir in the sumac to the salad mixture and combine well.

Stir in the sumac to the salad mixture and combine well.

Add the sumac and, pomegranate molasses or the balsamic vinegar (optional; if you enjoy a sharper taste like I do) to the mixture and combine well. Season with salt and pepper.

For soft boiled eggs; bring a pot of salted water to a boil on the stove. Once boiling carefully set the eggs in the water. Cover and turn the heat to low. Set your timer for five minutes (six if you like thicker yolks). Gently remove the eggs from the water when the timer goes off. Immediately run them under cold water and peel carefully.  I like to cut them in half and serve with the lentil salad.

Delicious and wholesome green lentils salad with sumac dressing.

Delicious and wholesome green lentils salad with sumac dressing.

Afiyet olsun,

Ozlem

Our Memorable Trip to the States

A delicious and a very warm welcome with Turkish breakfast :)

A delicious and a very warm welcome with Turkish breakfast 🙂

We have been travelling in the US during the last few weeks; it was wonderful to see our old hang outs and dear friends. First stop was Houston; our dear friends Hande & Lenny welcomed us with this delicious Turkish breakfast, infused with wonderful Texas style egg & cheese burritos. With glasses of  Turkish cay and in great company of friends, it was special reunion!

It was wonderful to return to Central Market Cooking School and teach my Turkish cookery class with them; here we're about  to prepare the eggplants with dear Cindy

It was wonderful to return to Central Market Cooking School and teach my Turkish cookery class with them; here we’re about to prepare the eggplants with dear Cindy

 We lived in Austin, Texas for about 6 years; a special place for us that we can call a 2nd home. I was delighted to return to the Central Market Cooking School and have a chance to teach my Turkish cookery class at this wonderful school. Folks from my previous classes, friends, dear participants of  my Culinary tours to Turkey, new Turkish food lovers all gathered and graciously shared their love of Turkish food and Turkey. It was a day to remember and I was grateful to their company and generosity in appreciation.

While in Texas, one needs to make the most of the barbecue Texas-style, and we had more than our fair share!

Here I am working on the great big BBQ sauce at Rudy's, loved every bit of it : )

Here I am working on the great big BBQ sauce at Rudy’s, loved every bit of it : )

Here is another special photo, with my dear friend Peri. Peri is the owner of the fabulously delicious Indian food blog, Peri’s Spice Ladle; our friendship goes a long way, since the days we both lived in Austin. I was so glad to be able to see this dear friend, as Peri & family had literally just arrived from their trip from India. In spite of their jet lag, they very kindly drove to come & see us before we departed, it was special reunion! As Peri said “what matters at the end is the hugs and the memories of a good time, not the travel and fatigue and the jet lag! “, I so agree.

Seeing dear friends like Peri, from Peri's Spice Ladle was a very special highlight.

Seeing dear friends like Peri, from Peri’s Spice Ladle was a very special highlight.

Austin, Texas has a lot of special things worth mentioning; being the capital of Texas, its live music scene (the city hosts brilliant music festivals like South by Southwest), home town of  UT and many more. Austin is also the place to find the country’s biggest urban softball bat community; a lot more than 750,000 Mexican Free-Tail bats make their house underneath the beams from the Congress Avenue bridge. We took a Town Lake river cruise in Austin and watched the bats taking off under the Congress Avenue Bridge; “thousands of them!”, as my 9 year old son said with amazement!

Watching thousands of bats taking off at Town Lake, Austin - Texas; a sight to see.

Watching thousands of bats taking off at Town Lake, Austin – Texas; a sight to see.

 We then headed to Park City, Utah. Park City is a scenic mountain community and its crisp clean air, from biking to hiking all things outdoors, the gorgeous mountain scene have been very welcome, relaxing and enjoyable.

Beautiful mountain scene and all things outdoors; we really enjoyed Park City.

Beautiful mountain scene and all things outdoors; we really enjoyed Park City.

We made this delicious Spinach and Cheese fillo pastry, Ispanakli Peynirli Borek with Aunt Jayne while we were in Park City; it was delicious! It’s such an easy, tasty treat and left overs freeze beautifully.

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Spinach and cheese pastry, Ispanakli, Peynirli Borek; delicious and easy to make.

As always, it’s been the people that have made a place special. I hope you have enjoyed the photos, as much as we enjoyed the trip.

Precious time spent with dear friends; and I loved these sunflowers : )

Precious time spent with dear friends; and I loved these sunflowers : )

My best wishes to you all. Now back at home, I look forward to sharing more new recipes here with you!

Ozlem

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Samphire (Sea Beans, Deniz Borulcesi) with Salmon, tomatoes and Olives

Succulent Samphire is in season at the moment, and it pairs with fish, boiled egg, broad beans beautifully

Succulent Samphire, deniz borulcesi or sea beans, as it is called in the US, is in season at the moment, and it pairs with fish, boiled egg, broad beans beautifully

Have you ever tried Samphire, or as we call in Turkey, deniz borulcesi? Samphire is in season at the moment and I was delighted to find this delicious sea vegetable at my local market, what a treat. Marsh Samphire, deniz borulcesi, is a succulent plant of the salicornia species, not a seaweed and it is a popular mezze ingredient in the Aegean & Mediterranean coast of Turkey. Samphire is also a fashionable sea vegetable in the UK at the moment; it has a short season (July to August) so make the most of it if you can. A reader kindly also informed me that samphire is called sea bean in the West Coast, US – and that makes perfect sense-. It pairs any grilled fish beautifully and samphire’s crisp texture and naturally salty, succulent taste is the taste of summer at the Aegean for me. Just one bite and I feel the sea breeze, the turquoise Aegean calling for me straight away..

Samphire’s crisp texture and naturally salty, delicious taste is the taste of summer at the Aegean for me.

Samphire’s crisp texture and naturally salty, delicious taste is the taste of summer at the Aegean for me.

Once described as the poor man’s asparagus, the mash samphire is not only delicious but very nutritious too. It is rich in vitamins A, B2, B15, C,D, amino acids and more. Some supermarkets, like Waitrose in England also carry samphire next to the fish counter, so worth checking out. Samphire is also delicious especially with egg, broad beans, for a vegetarian option.

Samphire paired deliciously with baked salmon, cherry tomatoes, anchovies and olives.

Samphire paired deliciously with baked salmon, cherry tomatoes, anchovies and olives.

I prepared the samphire, deniz borulcesi, in a simple dressing of extra virgin olive oil, garlic and lemon juice, like it is prepared in Turkey for a mezze spread; this dressing complemented the samphire beautifully next to our baked salmon with cherry tomatoes, olives and anchovies. Avoid using salt, as there is plenty natural salt here through anchovies and the samphire or sea beans. A very easy and delicious recipe, l hope you enjoy it too.

Serves  4

Preparation time: 15 minutes                                    Cooking time: 30 minutes

4 salmon fillets

16-18 cherry tomatoes, halved

30ml/2 tablespoons olives, pitted and halved

3 small fillets of anchovies in olive oil (from the tin); drained

30ml/2 tablespoons olive oil

Ground black pepper to taste

 Wedges of lemon to serve

For samphire (or sea beans or deniz borulcesi) & the dressing:

350g/12 oz. fresh samphire (deniz börülcesi)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1-2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped

30ml/ 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4

 

Spread the cherry tomatoes, olives and the anchovy fillets over and around the salmon fillets.

Spread the cherry tomatoes, olives and the anchovy fillets over and around the salmon fillets.

 Grease the baking tray with the olive oil and place the salmon fillets on it. Spread the cherry tomatoes, olives and the anchovy fillets over and around the salmon fillets. Season with ground black pepper. Place the tray in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes (please refer to cooking instructions at the packaging as cooking time may vary with the size  or type of the fish), until the fish is cooked and the tomatoes starting to turn crisp at the edges.

Samphire with olive oil, garlic and lemon juice

While the salmon is in the oven, prepare the samphire. Trim to remove the tough woody parts of the lower stalks and give it a light wash to remove any grit.  Steam the samphire over a pan of boiling water for a few minutes. Cool the samphire in iced water and set aside in a serving bowl.

Samphire is delicious with a simple dressing of olive oil, garlic and lemon juice.

Samphire is delicious with a simple dressing of olive oil, garlic and lemon juice.

 Combine the olive oil, chopped garlic and the lemon juice in a bowl and drizzle this sauce over the samphire or deniz borulcesi, mix well.

Samphire in olive oil, lemon juice and garlic with the baked salmon; delicious combination.

Samphire in olive oil, lemon juice and garlic with the baked salmon; delicious combination.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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Spicy Bulgur Wheat Salad with pomegranate molasses – Kisir

 

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My good friend Kate came over and we made Kisir today; it was lovely to cook with a friend and share the food. Kate is such a foodie and it is amazing to see how the food connects people no matter where we come from, a universal language. We talked about how important it is for us to be able to share and have an access to the recipes from our mothers, grandmothers, and be able to pass on to friends, family and to the next generation. More than being recipes, they really reflect our heritage, culture, traditions and keep the memories alive.

I am delighted to include this wonderful Spicy Bulgur Wheat Salad, Kisir and 90 more healthy, authentic Turkish recipes at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland. I love this salad so much that it is at the cover of my cookery book! If you would like to get a Signed copy of Ozlem’s Turkish Table, you can order at this link; it can make a wonderful gift to yourself or to a food lover.

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

So here comes kisir. Kisir is a specialty in the southeast of Turkey, from where the country’s spicier dishes hail. It is offered as a welcome to the guests in the homes of Antakya, where my roots are from, and in Gaziantep. Kisir is generally made with nar eksisi (sour pomegranate molasses) instead of lemon juice – though it is common to use lemon juice for Kisir at northwest Turkey. It can be rolled into balls and served nestling in crunchy lettuce leaves. This dish is perfect for buffets or as part of a barbecue spread. It really is a “bowl of health and goodness” with fresh vegetables, bulgur – packed with fiber and pomegranate sauce full of antioxidants.

This wonderful, refreshing can be prepared a couple of days in advance and can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days. As a matter of fact, it tastes even better a day or two later it’s made! I hope you can get to try the recipe. If you can’t find pomegranate molasses, a good balsamic vinegar and lemon juice also works well in this bulgur wheat salad. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi is used widely in this salad in Southern Turkish cooking; you can always make your own red pepper paste, here is my recipe.

Note: There are two main varieties of bulgur wheat available, fine and coarse bulgur. Fine bulgur is traditionally used in  salads like kisir whereas coarse bulgur is used in pilafs or As as we call it in Antakya. If you can’t get the fine bulgur wheat, you can also make this salad with coarse bulgur, widely available in supermarkets. In that case, use 240ml/8 fl oz hot water for 175gr/6oz coarse bulgur and cook on low heat for 10 minutes, covered.

Serves 4 – 6
Preparation time: 25 minutes

350gr/12oz fine bulgur wheat
240ml/8 fl oz hot water
15ml/1 tablespoon tomato paste
15ml/1 tablespoon red pepper paste (optional)
5ml / 1 teaspoon paprika, chili flakes or red pepper flakes
Juice of 1 lemon
30ml/ 2 tablespoon concentrated sour pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi
45ml/3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 green (spring) onions, finely chopped
4 tomatoes, finely chopped
Small bunch of finely chopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley
5ml / 1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Pomegranate seeds to serve (optional)
Lettuce leaves to serve

Mix the bulgur wheat, salt, ground black pepper, red pepper flakes (or paprika or chili flakes), tomato paste, red pepper paste and the chopped onion and knead thoroughly – this will help all the flavors marry and the onion to soften-. Pour the hot water over this mixture and stir, then leave to stand for about 15 minutes. It should absorb all the water by the end of this period. The bulgur should be of a dry consistency.

Add the lemon juice and the pomegranate molasses together with the extra virgin olive oil and knead well again. Stir in the remaining ingredients and combine thoroughly.

Serve as a salad in a bowl garnished with pomegranate seeds (if preferred) and  lettuce leaves. Alternatively, take spoonfuls of the mixture and with wet hands roll into balls the size of walnuts. Refrigerate until required.

Kisir; bulgur wheat salad with vegetables, olive oil and pomegranate molasses

Kisir; bulgur wheat salad with vegetables, olive oil and pomegranate molasses

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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