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Tag Archives | Turkish vegetarian meals cooked in olive oil

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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Eggplants with Lentils, cooked in Olive Oil; Mercimekli Mualla

 

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

It is high time for an eggplant (aubergine) recipe, the king of vegetables at home. Eggplant lovers at home claim we have over 200 eggplant, patlican recipes, as we love this special vegetable so much. My name in our home is actually “Patlican” too – or Patli as short-. When my husband heard the name for the first time, he liked the sound of it so much that he decided to call me Patlican! No complaints.

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.

Ozlem’s Turkish Table Cookery Book – available to order now

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. This is a traditional recipe and I am especially happy to be able to pass it on to food lovers and the next generation, and delighted to include at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes From My Homeland, available to order at this link.  It is a joy to trace these recipes over many phone calls to my mother, passionately exchange opinions on it and finally have a chance to share with you. I hope you enjoy this wonderful dish and pass it on.

Serves 4-6

Preparation time: 25 minutes Cooking time: 40 minutes

180 gr / 1 cup green lentils
2 medium eggplants (aubergine)
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 red bell pepper, cut in half and thinly sliced
400 gr / 14 oz (a can of) chopped tomatoes in juice
50 ml/ about 2 fl oz/ 1/4 cup olive oil and
45 ml / 3 tablespoons of olive oil to saute eggplants
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon dried mint (spearmint)
240 ml/ 8 lf oz / 1 cup water

Crusty bread to serve

Put lentils in a pan of boiling water, stir and cover. Simmer in low heat for 15 minutes. Drain its water and set aside.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the eggplants in zebra stripes. Cut the eggplant in half lengthways and then cut each half into medium thick slices. Spread them on a wide tray, sprinkle salt over and leave aside for 15 minutes. With using paper towel, squeeze excess water out of eggplants.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and very lightly sauté the eggplant slices for a minute or two. This will help eggplants to soften up and start bringing out their lovely sweet flesh.

In a large bowl, combine the partially cooked lentils, onion, garlic, bell peppers, chopped tomatoes, salt, mint, olive oil and the sugar, mix well. Season with ground black pepper, check the seasoning and add more salt if needed.

In a wide heavy pan, place a layer of the eggplant slices. Spread the half of the vegetable mixture over the eggplants evenly. Place the remaining of the eggplant slices over the top and spread the remaining vegetable mixture over. Add the water, cover and cook in medium to low heat for about 40 minutes.

Once cooked, cover and cool the dish in the pan. Serve at room temperature with some crusty bread.

Tips and facts on Eggplant (Aubergine):

1) This wonderful vegetable (actually fruit, as it has seeds) has about 90 % water, which makes it low in fat and calories. You need to get rid of the sour juice of the eggplant before cooking. You can do that by salting the eggplant slices, and squeezing the sour juice out using a paper towel.

2) You can’t eat eggplants raw but once cooked, the flesh becomes meaty and sweet; which makes a great vegetarian option.

3) We Turks love eggplants; we grill it, broil it, bake in the oven, smoke it and even make lovely jams out of it! As nation’s favorite vegetable, it is believed we have over 200 recipes featuring the beloved eggplant, patlican.

4) When shopping for eggplants, look for bright dark purple color and a healthy green stem. It should feel heavy for its size. Try to get a small to medium size eggplants as they tend to have less seeds.

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