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Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

Tomato Salad with Olive Oil

Tomato Salad with Olive Oil

Probably one of the most classical summer salad at Turkish homes is the Çoban 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. 🙂 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. 😉

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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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! 🙂 )

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. (more…)

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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. (more…)

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Artichoke hearts filled w/ fava puree

Artichokes always remind me of spring.  In my hometown, Izmir they come out in the middle of spring and disappear in few weeks.  So the fresh artichoke is a delicacy that can be enjoyed for a short period of time. They are cooked in many different ways, and this is the most Aegean way I think.  🙂

Cutting up an artichoke is a pain. The edible heart of the artichoke hides under layer after layer of leaves and inedible purple ‘choke’. It is very oxidative, and turns to brown immediately and dyes the hands in a terrible way. Since the preparation is such a pain, it is a common sight in Turkey to see a people selling prepared artichokes swimming in the bucket of lemon juice on the streets.

For this dish you can either prepare the artichokes yourself or you can buy canned artichoke hearts. If you decide to do it the hard way, make sure you wear gloves and put the artichokes in lemon juice-water mixture after you cut them up until you are ready to use them.

The recipe is for four large artichokes, but it is possible to use smaller artichokes and serve them as a party dish. 😉 (more…)

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Kısır: Turkish Bulgur Salad

Kisir or Kısır ( as spelled in its original form) is a very popular Turkish bulgur salad. It is a classic for the afternoon tea parties of the women, and generally accompanied by some borek ( cheese pastries) and tea. It resembles Tabouleh a bit, but it is not the same.

It is a very healthy  dish, contains bulgur (par-boiled whole wheat), lots of vegetables and fresh herbs, lemon juice and some olive oil.

Every family has a different kisir recipe, and they all taste different.  I like it when it is fluffy and spicy so feel free to adjust it to your own taste and add or subtract ingredients. 🙂

Most grocery stores carry bulgur for Tabouleh, but that is generally not the type you want for Kisir.  Kisir’s bulgur should be finely grounded, this way it will be softer and fluffy once soaked. If you can find a Middle Eastern or an Indian grocery store around look for No.1 or No.2 bulgur to get a better taste of this delicious salad.  If you cannot find those, you can go with the regular kind, but beware that larger grained bulgur needs more water and heat to cook than this recipe calls for. So experiment according to your taste.

Second interesting kick in this dish is Sumac.  Sumac is actually a kind of berry, and the ground form is used in Middle Eastern dishes to give a fruity sour flavor to the foods.  It is not a must, but I urge you to try it, because it is delicious. (more…)

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