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Tag Archives | pomegranate molasses

Baked Zucchini (courgette) halves with vegetables and chickpeas (garbanzo beans) -Nohutlu Kabak Dolmasi

I previously made the delicious stuffed zucchini halves with ground meat, vegetables and chickpeas or garbanzo beans, inspired by my home town, Antioch’s (Antakya) cuisine. I was asked for a vegetarian version of this dish during my Turkish cookery class past Saturday and there came this delicious dish. The meaty mushrooms, onions, peppers made a scrumptious filling and worked so well with chickpeas. With a touch of heat by the Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi & Turkish red pepper flakes and the refreshing dried mint, we had an at least equally delicious vegetarian stuffed zucchini that we all very much enjoyed.

Stuffed zucchini with onions, mushrooms, pepper and chickpeas, in tomato sauce

Stuffed zucchini with onions, mushrooms, pepper and chickpeas, in tomato sauce

I also used a little pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi, to add a delicious sweet & sour taste to the zucchini halves. Pomegranate molasses is used a lot especially in Southern Turkish cuisine in salad dressings like in this Gavurdagi Salad of tomatoes, onions and walnuts or in bulgur wheat salad, kisir; a little bit of it adds a great punch.

You can prepare this healthy dish ahead of time and the leftovers freeze beautifully. Please save the flesh of the zucchini or courgettes that you scooped out. They are delicious & wholesome cooked with onions, tomatoes & dried mint in this bulgur pilaf .

Serves 4-6

Preparation time: 20 minutes                                                Cooking time: 50-55 minutes

3 chunky zucchini/courgette

200gr/7oz chestnut mushrooms, wiped clean and finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped

200gr/7oz (1/2 can of) chopped tomatoes

200gr/7oz (1/2 can of) cooked chickpeas, rinsed

15ml/1 tbsp. pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi (optional)

30ml/2tablespoons olive oil

240ml/8fl oz./ 1cup water

15ml/1 tbsp. tomato paste

5 ml / 1 tsp. Turkish red pepper paste – optional-

10ml/2 tsp. dried mint

5ml/1 tsp. red pepper flakes

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

To serve:

120ml/8fl oz. plain yoghurt

1-2 garlic cloves, crushed with salt and finely chopped

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

carefully scoop out some of the flesh to create a cavity that is large enough to stuff

Carefully scoop out some of the flesh to create a cavity that is large enough to stuff

Cut the zucchini in half and then in lengthways. Using a dessert spoon, carefully scoop out some of the flesh to create a cavity that is large enough to stuff the filling (Please save the flesh of the zucchini that you scooped out. They are delicious cooked in bulgur pilaf). Mix 2 tbsp. water with the pomegranate molasses (if using) and wash the inside of the courgettes with this mixture; this adds a delicious sweet & sour taste to the zucchini.

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) combined with vegetables make a delicious filling

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) combined with vegetables make a delicious filling

Heat the oil in a heavy pan. Stir in the onions and garlic and cook until light golden. Add the mushrooms, bell pepper and hot pepper paste (if using). Season with salt and pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and the cooked chickpeas, mix well. Add the red pepper flakes and the dried mint, combine well. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes. Turn the heat off; the filling is ready.

Take a spoonful of the filling and stuff the zucchini halves.

Take a spoonful of the filling and stuff the zucchini halves.

Grease a baking tray with 1 tbsp. olive oil and place the scooped zucchini. Take a spoonful of the filling and stuff the zucchini halves, taking care not to over fill them. Dilute the tomato paste with the water and pour on the tray. Cover and bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes. After this, uncover and bake for a further 10 minutes for a lightly brown finish.

While the zucchini halves are baking, prepare your garlic yoghurt. In a bowl, mix the plain yoghurt with the chopped garlic. Serve the stuffed zucchini hot, with the garlic yoghurt by the side. You can make this wonderful bulgur pilaf using the flesh of the zucchini we scooped out; they complement each very nicely and you get a complete meal.

Baked zucchini halves with vegetables & chickpeas; great with garlic yoghurt aside

Baked zucchini halves with vegetables & chickpeas; great with garlic yoghurt aside

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Istanbul is Calling!

Turkish tea, Cay, Simit and Istanbul's Bosphorus; a heavenly combination

Turkish tea, Cay, Simit and Istanbul’s Bosphorus; a heavenly combination

Indeed Istanbul is calling and I can hardly wait! I will be in Istanbul next week, the city that makes my heart beats fast, a feast to all senses. Greatly looking forward to seeing family, friends and feeling the beat of this fascinating city.

The very atmospheric Spice Market, Misir Carsisi, Istanbul - feast to all senses

The very atmospheric Spice Market, Misir Carsisi, Istanbul – feast to all senses

I also very much look forward to sharing delicious Turkish cuisine with food lovers at my Turkish cookery class on Wednesday, 19th February at the Istanbul Culinary Institute. I will be in touch soon with delicious memories from home!

With my best wishes, Selamlar,

Ozlem

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Spinach Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Chestnuts & My Turkish Cooking Classes in Surrey & Istanbul in February!

Spinach salad with celery, red onions, sauteed chestnuts and pine nuts; delicious & refreshing

Spinach salad with celery, red onions, sauteed chestnuts and pine nuts; delicious & refreshing

As much as I love indulging in rich festive food during the holidays, I look forward to returning to my salad days. Salads made with seasonal ingredients form an important part of Turkish cuisine and this refreshing spinach salad with jewel like pomegranates and seasonal chestnuts became a big hit with us.

Roasted chestnut stall in Istanbul; they are iresistable.

Roasted chestnut stall, Kestaneci, in Istanbul; they are irresistible.

Roasted chestnut stalls are a frequent sight in Turkey at this time of the year; straight from the roasting tin, I love their delicious, warming and comforting taste. You can use roasted or cooked chestnuts in this salad. Precooked chestnuts are also widely available in supermarkets these days. We often use nuts in Turkish cuisine; I also added some pine nuts to my salad and sautéed it with the cooked chestnuts, for a nice texture and a delicious bite.

Very inviting pomegranates and its freshly squeezed juice, in Pergamum, Bergama - Turkey

Very inviting pomegranates and its freshly squeezed juice, in Pergamum, Bergama – Turkey

The star of this salad is really the pomegranate seeds. Packed with goodness, antioxidants and a deliciously vibrant, sweet & tangy flavor, they just bring the salad together so nicely. A drizzle of pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi is my choice of salad dressing here; we use this dressing a lot especially in Southern Turkish cuisine, as in Kisir, Bulgur wheat salad with vegetables and Turkish hot pepper paste, or the Gavurdagi Salad of tomatoes, onions and walnuts. You may use a good quality balsamic vinegar instead, if you can’t get pomegranate molasses.

 Spinach salad with pomegranate seeds and sauteed chestnuts & pine nuts - delicious and wholesome

Spinach salad with pomegranate seeds and sauteed chestnuts & pine nuts – delicious and wholesome

I hope you enjoy this easy, delicious and refreshing salad. Here is another idea; why not add some pomegranate seeds to plain yogurt, with some walnuts, dried apricots and a drizzle of honey for breakfast ? A delicious, wholesome start for the day 🙂

Yoghurt with dried apricots, walnuts, pomegranate and blueberries

Yoghurt with dried apricots, walnuts, pomegranate and blueberries

Serves 2 – 4

175gr / 6oz fresh spinach leaves, thoroughly washed and pat dried

½ red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced

2-3 celery sticks, roughly chopped

45ml/3 tbsp. pine nuts

110gr/4oz cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped

30ml/2tbsp. olive oil

15ml/1tbsp pomegranate molasses

Seeds of a pomegranate, about 8oz / 1 cup (you can use less if you prefer)

Slices of crusty bread or Turkish pide (flat bread) to serve

 

Arrange the washed spinach leaves, sliced red onions and chopped celery in a salad bowl, combine well.

Gently sauté pine nuts and chestnuts until pine nuts turn to golden brown.

Gently sauté pine nuts and chestnuts until pine nuts turn to golden brown.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and stir in the cooked chestnuts and pine nuts. Gently sauté until pine nuts turn to golden brown (keep an eye on especially the pine nuts, as they burn quickly after browning).

Refreshing spinach salad with celery, red onion, pomegranate seeds and sauteed nuts.

Refreshing spinach salad with celery, red onion, pomegranate seeds and sauteed nuts.

Toss the sautéed nuts to the salad mixture and combine well. Drizzle the pomegranate molasses and stir in the pomegranate seeds. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately, accompanied by Turkish pide (flat bread) or some crusty bread. This salad also complements grilled fish and meat very nicely.

Afiyet olsun,

Ozlem

My Turkish Cooking Classes coming up in Weybridge- Surrey and Istanbul in February!

Refreshing crumbled feta salad with spices

Delicious crumbled feta cheese salad with spices & olive oil; Cokelek Salatasi

I am delighted to be teaching 2 Turkish cookery classes in February;  on Saturday, 8th February, from 10am to 12 noon in Weybridge, Surrey and on Wednesday, 19th February at the Istanbul Culinary Institute in Istanbul.

Teaching at Istanbul Culinary Institute last year;  it was wonderful to have mother at the class.

Teaching at Istanbul Culinary Institute last year; it was wonderful to have mother at the class.

From Feta Cheese Salad with red onions, tomatoes and spices to Stuffed Courgettes (Zucchini) with ground meat and chickpeas in Pomegranate Sauce and to Revani, Semolina sponge cake & More; Please join us to learn how to prepare delicious and wholesome Turkish Cuisine and artful use of spices.

You can find the details for the classes at this link, Ozlem’s Turkish Table – Cookery Classes. I would be delighted to have your company to share and enjoy Turkish cuisine together, if you’d like to join us. Participation is limited and early booking recommended.

 

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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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