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Exclusive recipe from my new cookery book SEBZE – Turkish Şakşuka

Merhaba dear All,

It’s not long now for the worldwide publication of my new cookery book, SEBZE, Vegetarian recipes from my Turkish kitchen in April 2024 and I am giddy with excitement to share this special book with you all. You can pre-order your copy here, and we would greatly appreciated, as pre-orders help new books greatly.

There are 85 scrumptious vegetarian Turkish recipes in SEBZE. We have a rich and diverse regional cuisine, which I have researched extensively. SEBZE includes lesser-known regional specialties along with popular Turkish recipes and a few of my own creations. Many of the recipes complement one another and leftovers can be repurposed for other delicious meals with ease. There are plenty, easy one pot recipes, as well as recipes that suit gluten-free and plant-based diets too.

I wanted to share with you dear readers, an exclusive recipe from my new cookery book, SEBZE, Turkish Şakşuka; Baked Aubergines, Courgettes, Peppers with Tomato Sauce.

You might know Shakshuka (meaning ‘all mixed up’) as a popular dish in the Middle East of eggs cooked in tomato sauce, peppers, herbs and sometimes onions. For us Turks, though, the name and dish Şakşuka refers to this delicious, summery meze of aubergines (eggplant) and peppers cooked in olive oil, served with a tomato-based sauce. Vegetables are traditionally shallow-fried in olive oil for this recipe, although for a lighter and equally tasty option, I prefer to bake them in the oven. I added courgettes (zucchini) here too, following my mother’s recipe.

I suggest to serve this with the nutty Muhammara  and Kekikli, Pul Biberli Fırın Patates, my Baked potato chips with pul biber and oregano, both from SEBZE; they complement Şakşuka like a dream.

Turkish Şakşuka; Baked Aubergines, Courgettes, Peppers with Tomato Sauce

Prepare ahead: You can prepare Şakşuka a day ahead and keep covered in the refrigerator.

 Serves 2–3

 1 large aubergine (eggplant), partially peeled in stripes and trimmed

1 medium courgette (zucchini), cut into 1 cm (½ in) slices

1 red (bell) pepper, deseeded and cut into 3 cm (1 in) chunks

2–3 chillies or Turkish sivri biber, deseeded and sliced in half lengthways

4 tablespoons olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

flatbreads, to serve

For the tomato sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 garlic cloves, crushed with salt and finely chopped

400 g (14 oz) tin chopped tomatoes

2 teaspoons Turkish red pepper paste (biber salçası, see page xx for homemade) (or double concentrated tomato paste, for a milder flavour)

½ teaspoon pul biber or red pepper flakes (optional)

small handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the garlicky yoghurt sauce

200 g (7 oz/generous ¾ cup) thick and creamy plain yoghurt (or plant-based alternative)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 200°C fan/220°C/425°F/gas 7.

Cut the peeled aubergine in half lengthways, then cut each half into 1 cm (½ in) slices. Place them on a large tray, sprinkle with salt and set aside for 10 minutes. Salt will help the moisture come out of the aubergines. Dry thoroughly with paper towels.

On a large baking tray, arrange the aubergine slices with the sliced courgette, pepper and chillies on the tray in one layer. Coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Rub the seasoning and oil into the vegetables with your hands. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven, remove the pepper strips and place on a large serving plate. Turn the aubergine and courgette slices and bake for a further 10 minutes until charred at edges and cooked through. Place alongside the peppers on the serving plate.

While the vegetables are baking, make the tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil in a wide pan over a medium heat, add the garlic and sauté for a minute, then add the chopped tomatoes and the pepper paste (or double concentrated tomato paste) and mix well. Cook for 3–4 minutes until the sauce thickens. Stir in the pul biber (if using) and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from the heat.

For the yoghurt sauce, beat the yoghurt with the garlic and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon the tomato sauce over the top of the cooked vegetables. Serve with the yoghurt sauce on the side, accompanied by flatbreads to mop up the tasty sauce.

Ozlem at Meric Ciftligi – Altinouzu, Antakya, from SEBZE. Image credit Sam A Harris

SEBZE  is a recipe collection built with convenience and flavour in mind, inspired by my homeland’s rich and diverse culinary heritage. I hope you will embark on a culinary journey to my homeland, to discover a selection of delightful, achievable vegetarian recipes, with stunning food and location photography.

From my kitchen to yours – Afiyet Olsun, as we say in Turkish – may you be happy and healthy with this food and enjoy your copy of SEBZE.

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My new cookbook, SEBZE, Vegetarian recipes from my Turkish kitchen – on Pre-order Now!

My new cookery book, SEBZE, Vegetarian recipes from my Turkish kitchen, is now available to pre-order worldwide Here!

Gorgeous cover design by Nic and Lou

My heart bursts with joy to announce that after over 2 years of work (and many years of dreaming about it), my new cookery book, SEBZE, Vegetarian Recipes from My Turkish Kitchen, will be published by Hardie Grant Publishing on April 9th in the USA, April 11th in the UK (& in Türkiye via Amazon Turkiye), April 5th in Australia. SEBZE is now available to pre-order HERE!

SEBZE, meaning “vegetables” in Turkish, is a celebration of vegetarian Turkish cuisine, with 85 practical and delicious vegetarian recipes (including scrumptious desserts) from the heart of my homeland, Türkiye (Turkey) along with stunning food and location photography by the very talented Sam A Harris, my stories and tips as a cookery teacher. SEBZE is now on pre-order worldwide, order link here (the link will take you to the relevant website to your location, for ordering). Pre-orders are very important for the success of a cookery book, hence I would be very grateful to your kind order.

Antalya style bean salad with tahini sauce, Tahinli piyaz from SEBZE  Photo by Sam A Harris

I have long wanted to write SEBZE, to showcase the many different ways we enjoy seasonal vegetables, legumes and whole grains in my homeland, as living abroad over 20 years, I’ve seen how Turkish cuisine is mostly associated with kebabs. I believe the recipes in SEBZE will not only please vegetarians, but anyone, like me, who would like fresh and achievable vegetable-centered ideas to include in their cooking. I hope the readers will embark on a culinary journey to my homeland, to discover our delightful, practical,  vegetarian recipes, along with scrumptious sweetsI am delighted to share a few taster images from SEBZE with you here.

What to expect in SEBZE? Showcasing diverse culinary heritage and warm spirit of Turkish culture, expect to indulge in popular Turkish classics, along with lesser-known regional specialties, from gözleme to mezes, street food (yes, simit!), All day breakfast, hearty casseroles, boreks, pickles, pilafs, vibrant salads, wholesome soups, healthy vegetables cooked in olive oil (Zeytinyağlı) and so much more. You will be glad to know there are scrumptious cookies, cakes and desserts in SEBZE too, from the milk-based Fırın Sütlaç to the luscious Pumpkin and walnut baklava, my take on the much loved classic, fruit based treats and many more. Recipes that are easy, flexible, good value, seasonal and sustainable – not to mention utterly delicious.

Çılbır, Turkish style poached eggs with garlicky yoghurt from SEBZE, image credit Sam A Harris

I tried to offer recipes that complement one another in SEBZE; most recipes include prep ahead tips, freezing options and variations for gluten-free and plant-based diets. Turkish cuisine is a no waste kitchen, so there are ideas for leftovers such as Baked bread with egg and vegetables; Fırında Yumurtalı, Sebzeli Ekmek, Easy, herby pan börek; Otlu tava böreği and many more. The recipes are both with metric and imperial measurements. Whether you are vegetarian or simply looking for fresh, vegetable-, grains- and pulses-centered ideas to include in your diet, there will be something for you in SEBZE.

Zeytinyağlı biber dolması, stuffed peppers with aromatic rice from SEBZE. Image credit Sam A Harris

I am also very excited to share some lesser known regional specialties such as this show stopper Tray bake Mantı with spiced chickpeas, Nohutlu Tepsi Mantı in SEBZE. You would be glad to know it is easy to make and can be prepared ahead too.

Tray bake Mantı with spiced chickpeas, Nohutlu Tepsi Mantı from SEBZE. Image credit Sam A Harris

How about this scrumptious Baked aubergines, courgettes, peppers with tomato sauce; Turkish Şakşuka with Home made pul biber and oregano chips? They are huge part of my childhood, accompanied by my mother’s Muhammara, all in SEBZE.

Turkish Saksuka with pul biber and oregano chips, from SEBZE. Image credit Sam A Harris

Tray bake börek with onions, potato, mineral water, Patatesli sodalı börek from SEBZE – Image credit to Sam A Harris

There are so many talented, kind folks helped made SEBZE happen. I can’t thank enough to my literary agent Milly Reilly, the Hardie Grant Publishing team for all their support. Huge thanks to the photographer extraordionaire Sam Harris  who not only shot Sebze in London along with the amazing team and food stylist Esther Clark, but he also travelled to Turkiye with me for our location shoots in Istanbul and Antakya – at the beautiful Meric Ciftligi, with my family, aunties, and uncles, which were so special to me. I am so grateful for these amazing shoots, showcasing my homeland and heritage. My very sincere thanks also to Diana Henry for her most kind words on the cover, along with Sabrina Ghayour, Joe Woodhouse, Jenny Linford, Ghillie Basan, Rosemary Gill for their generous quotes for SEBZE and everyone so kind to support this special book.

Ozlem at Meric Ciftligi – Altinouzu, Antakya, from SEBZE. Image credit Sam A Harris

Fıstıklı Un Kurabiyesi, Turkish shortbread cookies with pistachio from SEBZE. Image credit Sam A Harris

It’s been an absolute privilege to write SEBZE and my heart bursts with pride. If you are keen to get a copy and if you can pre-order here, I would greatly appreciate it, as pre-orders help so much to a new book (amazon takes the payment for pre-orders when it is dispatched). My huge, sincere thanks, çok teşekkür ederim – can’t wait for you to meet SEBZE !

SEBZE, Vegetarian recipes from my Turkish kitchen, available to pre-order HERE

Afiyet Olsun,

Özlem

 

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Baked pasta with courgettes, cheese and béchamel – Kabaklı peynirli fırın makarna

This is a delicious, easy, comforting pasta bake that you can prepare ahead. Dried mint adds a refreshing touch; I used medium cheddar, though you can use any melting cheese you like – I love grated halloumi here too. I try to squeeze in vegetables into my pasta bakes and bountiful courgettes work well here; feel free to use other vegetables in hand too.

Serve this delicious pata bake with a refreshing salad. Shepherd’s Salad, Coban Salatasi, from Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book, for instance would be a wonderful match served aside.  Please kindly note that this pasta bake is not included in my cookery book. Afiyet Olsun.

Baked pasta with courgettes, cheese and béchamel – Kabaklı peynirli fırın makarna
 
This is a delicious, easy, comforting pasta bake that you can prepare ahead. Dried mint adds a refreshing touch; I used medium cheddar, though you can use any melting cheese you like – I love grated halloumi here too. I try to squeeze in vegetables into my pasta bakes and bountiful courgettes work well here; feel free to use other vegetables in hand too.
Author:
Recipe type: Vegetarian pasta bake
Cuisine: Turkish / Mediterranean
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 2 medium courgettes, grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1tsp dried mint
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 450g penne (or pasta or your choice)
  • 110g grated mild cheddar (to sprinkle on top)
  • For the white sauce:
  • 480ml warm milk (I prefer whole milk)
  • 110g grated medium cheddar
  • 45g unsalted butter
  • 3tbsp plain flour
Instructions
  1. Place grated courgettes in a bowl, sprinkle salt over top and leave to drain for 10 minutes. Then squeeze out the excess moisture, leave a side.
  2. Pour olive oil in a wide pan, stir in the courgettes and garlic; sauté over medium to high heat for 5-6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add dried mint, combine well and set aside to cool.
  3. Cook the pasta al dente (as suggested on its package), drain, and place on a large mixing bowl. Drizzle a little olive oil and combine so it won’t stick. Set aside.
  4. Preheat fan oven to 180C/350F.
  5. Make the white sauce by melting the butter in a medium sized pan, on a low to medium heat. Add the flour and beat well. Slowly add the warm milk whisking continuously to get a smooth consistency and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until the sauce is thickened. Stir in the sautéed courgettes and cheese and combine well. Turn the heat off.
  6. Combine the sauce with the cooked pasta in the large bowl, mix well. Place and spread the mixture in a 30x25cm baking dish. Sprinkle 110g grated cheese over and bake in the preheated oven for 18 – 20 minutes, until it is golden on top.
  7. Let it cool for 10 minutes, then slice and serve with a refreshing salad. Shepherd’s Salad, Coban Salatasi, from Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book, for instance would be a wonderful match served aside. Please kindly note that this pasta bake is not included in my cookery book. Afiyet Olsun.
 

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