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Tomato Salad with Olive Oil

Tomato Salad with Olive Oil

Probably one of the most classical summer salad at Turkish homes is the √áoban Salad (Pronounced as Choban and means Shepherd’s Salad). There are lots of varieties in the US, under many different names: Mediterranean Salad, Greek Salad etc. The main idea is the same though, this is a refreshing summer salad that you can serve almost with anything.

The recipe is basically mixture of summer fruits. ūüôā Ok, I won’t go into the detail of a famous debate, whether tomatoes and¬†cucumbers¬†are fruit. Because they are technically fruits! There, end of the debate. ūüėČ

If you¬†don’t¬†care about the taxonomy, you can enjoy this with grilled meats, as an appetizer or even as a main course. Feel free to play around with the recipe, and customize. Any kind of tomatoes as long as they are¬†flavorful¬†would work. Choose your chillies according to your spice endurance, they can be mild or hot, its up to you. ¬†Another crucial ingredient is a good quality olive oil, do not substitute it with any other oil and try to use a cold pressed extra virgin olive oil if possible.

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Grilled eggplant salad

Grilled Eggplant Salad

Eggplants are one of my favorite vegetables. Underneath their hard and purple exterior there is a white spongy flesh which goes well with many different flavors. They cook quickly and can be eaten with meat, as cold dishes or even salads.

A popular Turkish legend says there are more than 100 unique eggplant dishes. Even though I cannot verify that claim, I should say that eggplants are used in many different ways in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines. Some of those dishes are harder to cook – they involve carving, frying or stuffing the vegetable– but some are quite easy. This salad is one of the easiest and tastiest ones. I cook it quite often, it goes very well with grilled meats, or as a main dish. You can also spread it to baguettes to make some appetizers.

Traditionally, eggplants are cooked over charcoal fire for this dish.
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Quinoa Salad w/ black beans & avocados

Quinoa is something new for me.

I kept seeing it in grocery stores, but was reluctant to use it.  Then, while I was doing an eating challenge for my public health and nutrition class last year,  I wanted to explore different kinds of whole grains and quinoa was one of the new discoveries. Quinoa grains look like tiny lentil grains, once cooked they have a crunchy texture and nutty flavor. They can be either eaten cold in salads or warm, just like pilafs.

The first time I cooked quinoawas with a broth as a side dish. which also came out pretty good. But as soon as I tasted the quinoa for the first time an array of Mexican flavors passed through my eyes, and the result is this recipe. ūüôā

Be bold, quinoa goes well with almost anything, but if you are in a Mexican food mood, make sure you try this one. Continue Reading »

ÔĽŅ

Baked Zucchini Patties

Baked Zucchini Patties

Just like other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern people, Turks also love stuffed vegetables. They try to fill every kind of vegetable you can think of with rice or rice-meat mixture. If the vegetable is not a leafy one, then it is hollowed out for stuffing. And zucchini patties are almost always a side dish to the stuffed zucchinis.  Every household would save the carved out tender zucchini flesh, and once the demanding stuffing procedure is done, remaining zucchini pieces are grated and turned into delicious patties.

I like very kind of zucchini dish, and this is also one of my favorites.  In it is original form, the batter is runnier and it is deep fried in olive oil. However, I follow a different, healthier interpretation. I saw this idea in another food blog (in Turkish) few years ago, and played around with the recipe a little bit.  As a result, this become one of my favorite recipes, being super easy and healthy at the same time.

It serves as a great appetizer, side dish or as a brunch.

Ingredients:

Pumpkin Cheesecake

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake

When I moved to the US, it was October and it was the harvest time. ¬†I was amazed by the different kinds of winter squash in grocery stores and farmer’s markets. Out of those countless different shapes and colors, pumpkin is the most ( and probably only) familiar one to me. ¬†Even though we have pumpkin in Turkey, its use is pretty limited. ¬†Most households would only cook Pumpkin in Syrup, and roast the seeds as snack. ¬†So it was the only pumpkin recipe I knew until recently. ¬†After moving in to California, I started to experiment with pumpkin and other winter squashes, and tried different recipes, and realized that I really like the nutty creamy flavor of this vegetable.

So when our friends invited over us for The Thanksgiving dinner, I volunteered to make the desert. ¬†Since Thanksgiving is an harvest celebration, pumpkin was a good fit for the menu, and most people would cook Pumpkin Pie. ¬†But I wanted to make something different, so I baked a Pumpkin Cheesecake. ūüôā

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Celery Roots in Olive Oil

They say greatest loves born out of greatest hates.¬† I had a love/hate relationship with celery roots ( or¬†celeriacs as some people call them) ¬†. These root vegetables have a very strong odor that would infuse all home while cooking, and I used to hate it as a child. ¬†To make things worse, it was my mom’s favorite vegetable, and¬† was also probably one of the few vegetables that used to be around in winter time before the advent of greenhouse farming. (Yes, I know we can have eggplants in December now, but back then it was not the case! ūüôā )

As ¬†combined result of the convenience and my mom’s gustatory taste, we had celery roots almost every week: in olive oil, with lamb, with potatoes, salads….you name it. I hated it and declined to eat it in any form back then.¬† Even though picking food was not allowed in our house, celery roots was exempt from that and I have successfully avoided them for a very long time. Continue Reading »

Coleslaw with Cranberries

Coleslaw w/ dried cranberries

Coleslaw w/ dried cranberries

Cabbage is a leafy vegetable in the cruciferous vegetables family. As with all the members in this smelly vegetables group, they release a very strong and unpleasant smell while cooking.  Some people like the taste and would not mind the smell but some people just plainly hate it.  As a result there are many cabbage haters, along with cabbage eaters.  But neverthless, cabbages are health foods, there are recent and promising studies that show their effect as anti-cancerogens.

Even though I am a cabbage eater, I live with a cabbage hater. Lately  I realized eating cruciferous vegetables raw would not release that horrible odor, and your loved one might actually enjoy these wondrous nutritious vegetable without being disgusted by that horrible smell.
I came across this recipe in Food Network some time ago, and I tried it. We both liked it very much, and since it has been a classic side dish for us, especially with Slow Cooked BBQ Baby Ribs. Like every recipe, this one developed over time, and actually even now I do keep experimenting with different ingredients. Continue Reading »