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Tag Archives | green lentils

From Menemen to Izmir Kofte; delicious and easy Turkish meals when you are on the move

We have just moved in to our new home; very exciting yet also busy with packing and settling in. I gathered a few of my favorite recipes here that can be easily prepared, yet delicious and wholesome – I know I will be turning to them and knowing I have good food ready to enjoy & serve will give me peace of mind, at the end of a busy day. These dishes can also be prepared ahead of time or can be cooked all in one pot. I hope these also may inspire you for wholesome and easy meals; look forward to sharing new recipes from our new home soon!

Turkish scrambled egg with tomatoes, peppers, oninons and feta cheese, Menemen

Menemen; Turkish scrambled egg with tomatoes, peppers, onions and feta cheese.

Menemen; Turkish scrambled egg with tomatoes, peppers, onions and feta cheese.

What do you cook when you are loaded with boxes and busy unpacking? Well, this delicious scrambled egg and vegetables is packed with flavour, it is nutritious and gets ready in minutes. Menemen is one of my homeland’s favorite brunch item, and a great street food. There are many versions of it – garlic, onion, any choice of cheese, spinach would go well too. Served with nice crusty bread and a little garlic yoghurt by the side, this dish can make a wonderful light supper or a substantial lunch option.

Casserole of meatballs, peppers, onions and potato; Izmir Kofte

Izmir Kofte; Casserole of meatballs, onions, peppers and potato

Izmir Kofte; Casserole of meatballs, onions, peppers and potato

How about this melt-in-the mouth Izmir Kofte; Casserole of meatballs, peppers, onions and potato? This is a popular meatball and vegetable casserole (not only with the children but with the adults too!) that can either be cooked on the stove top or baked in the oven. It makes a complete and hearty main course served with plain white rice or a slice of crusty bread. Delicious, easy meal; you can add as much red pepper flakes as you would like for a spicier flavor.

 Zucchini fritters with feta, dill and green onions –  Mucver

Zucchini fritters with feta, spring onions and dill; Mucver; delicious

Zucchini fritters with feta, spring onions and dill; Mucver; delicious

Zucchini, kabak in Turkish, are very versatile, used in many dishes and their flowers are perfect for stuffing. This surprisingly easy and  wonderful vegetarian fritters, Mucver, are fantastic accompanied by garlic infused yoghurt or a leafy salad and crusty bread. You can enjoy them as a meze/appetizer for supper or light lunch dish. The bite size versions would be a great party / finger food too. They are also wonderful served next day as a cold snack. They are easy to make and delightful. Here is my Mucver recipe, if you’d like to give it a go.

Bulgur wheat pilaf with vegetables; Sebzeli Bulgur Pilavi

Bulgur pilaf with onions, peppers and tomatoes, Sebzeli Bulgur Pilavi

Bulgur pilaf with onions, peppers and tomatoes, Sebzeli Bulgur Pilavi

Often confused with cracked wheat, bulgur wheat is a grain made from cooked whole wheat berries, which have had the bran removed, and is then dried in the sun and crushed. As it has already been cooked, it requires little cooking to reconstitute itself. It is available coarsely and finely ground. For pilaf, the coarser type is used, to create a nutty and delicious dish, which is a meal in itself and served with yoghurt. Bulgur has been a major staple in many rural areas in Turkey; during the Ottoman Period, the rice was a very precious commodity that only the rich could afford. This made the bulgur a very popular option and healthy one too. It is reach in fiber and provides good source of protein.  I love this delicious and wholesome bulgur pilaf with vegetables; you get a complete, satisfying meal in no time. You can serve Cacik dip, yoghurt with cucumbers and dried mint as a side for a refreshing accompaniment.

Eggplants, green lentils and vegetables cooked in Olive Oil; Mercimekli Mualla

Aubergine with green lentils, aubergine onions and peppers; Mercimekli Mualla- such a delicious treat

Aubergine with green lentils, aubergine onions and peppers; Mercimekli Mualla- such a delicious treat

We have a whole section in Turkish cuisine called “Vegetables cooked in Olive Oil”, Zeytinyaglilar, where we cook vegetables in olive oil and serve them either cold or at room temperature. Once cooked, it is important for the dish to cool down in its pan and rest, allowing all the flavors to blend. Usually served with a wedge of lemon, this style of cooking is very healthy, tasty and refreshing. This traditional recipe, Patlicanli Mercimekli Mualla, is from Antakya, Southern part of Turkey, where my roots are from. The amazing flavors of green lentils, olive oil, eggplant and dried mint blend so well and take me back to Antakya immediately. Again, all-in-one-pot, delicious vegetarian meal you can prepare ahead of time.

Turkish beans salad with vegetables, olives, boiled egg in sumac dressing; Fasulye Piyazi

Bean salad with onions, tomatoes, olives and boiled eggs - Fasulye piyazl

Bean salad with onions, tomatoes, olives and boiled eggs – Fasulye piyazl

What do you cook when you have limited time? Well, this bean and vegetable salad, fasulye piyazi, can be ready in a flash, it is very delicious and healthy. At home, traditionally we serve fasulye piyazi with grilled meatballs, koftes. There are traditional restaurants, lokantas, at home that solely serve Turkish style meatballs, fasulye piyaz and pickled cucumber and peppers. This salad is also a great alternative for lunch, served with some nice crusty bread or in can be a part of a meze spread. I would happily have this salad with some nice bread aside for a light supper.

Baked dried apricots with walnuts – Cevizli kayisi tatlisi

Baked dried apricots with walnuts; delicious, easy and packed with goodness.

Baked dried apricots with walnuts; delicious, easy and packed with goodness.

One of Turkey’s most prolific fruits is the apricot. Because of their abundance, some of the yearly harvest is allowed to dry in the hot summer sun in order to be enjoyed all year round. Malatya, a city in southeast Turkey, is particularly famous for excellent dried apricots which are exported throughout the world. Apricots are great snacks; they are packed with fiber, antioxidants and their naturally rich, wonderful flavor is icing on the cake. This delicious & easy baked dried apricots with walnuts dessert is great for sharing with friends and family or just indulging yourself.

Delicious, frothy Turkish Coffee – Turk Kahvesi; More than a Drink

Turkish Coffee, Turk Kahvesi; More than a Drink

Turkish Coffee, Turk Kahvesi; More than a Drink

For me, nothing more relaxing than taking a break with a  nice cup of Turkish coffee. Turkish coffee, Turk kahvesi is one of the most popular traditional drinks at home in Turkey and I love the whole ritual, the experience of it. In Turkish, we have a saying “Bir fincan kahvenin kirk yil hatiri vardir” which means “The memory of a good cup of Turkish coffee lasts 40 years”. Turkish coffee is a drink of friendship; you are offered this traditional, aromatic drink wherever you go in Turkey; when visiting friends and family, in the shops, while waiting in the bank, in hairdressers.. We take time to pause and enjoy this special drink with a friend or family or sometimes simply reflect with every precious sip. A glass of water and Turkish Delights, Lokum by the side complete the Turkish coffee ritual. And I always look forward to putting the feet up and enjoy a sip of Turkish coffee at then end of a busy day.

Afiyet Olsun!

Ozlem

 

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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.

IMG_1486

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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Bulgur Pilaf with green lentils, served with caramelized onions -Mercimekli Bulgur Pilavi

Bulgur pilaff with lentils, over sauteed onion rings; delicious and wholesome

Bulgur pilaff with lentils, over sauteed onion rings; delicious and wholesome

This wonderful, traditional pilaf is from my hometown Antioch (Antakya), and it is served with caramelized onions over the top. The sweetness of the caramelized onions complements the lentils and bulgur really well. I like to serve it with spicy pickled peppers or a green salad with a sharp lemon juice and olive oil dressing, they complement the pilaf wonderfully. Easy, healthy and delicious, this pilaf can be kept in fridge for 2-3 days.

Variation: I had some chestnut mushrooms that needed using the other day. So I sautéed the slices of the mushrooms with some crushed garlic, and then added a handful of chopped parsley. Seasoned with salt and pepper and added a juice of 1/2 lemon to the mixture for a nice tangy finish. I served the bulgur and green lentils pilaf with this sautéed mushrooms, it was delightful. Just another idea for serving.

Serves 6-8
Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 35 minutes

225gr/8oz/1 cup green lentils
350gr/12oz bulgur wheat, rinsed
15ml/1 tablespoon mild olive oil
750ml/ 1/4 pints/3cups hot water
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
To serve:
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
45ml/3 tablespoons mild olive oil
Pickled green and red peppers

Boil the green lentils in a heavy pan with plenty of hot water for about 15 minutes. Drain the water and set the green lentils aside.

Combine the half cooked green lentils and rinsed the bulgur wheat in a heavy pan. Pour in the hot water and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine thoroughly. Bring to boil for 1-2 minutes, and then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer until all the liquid has been completely absorbed (about 15 minutes).

While the pilaf is cooking, heat the olive oil in a pan and stir in the onion slices. Over a medium heat, cook the onion slices for about 10-15 minutes until they start to get caramelized, stir occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the bulgur and green lentils pilaf with the caramelized onion slices over the top. Spicy pickled peppers or a green salad with a sharp lemon juice and olive oil dressing would go really well with the pilaf.  Cacik dip of yoghurt with cucumbers and garlic is also lovely with this wholesome meal.

Afiyet Olsun!

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