Almost Turkish Recipes

Roasted Eggplant Purée with Yogurt (Yoğurtlu Patlıcan Salatası)

Eggplants... we love them. We cook them in any way imaginable; we bake them, dry them, fry them, pickle them, purée them, roast them, split them, stew them, stir-fry them, stuff them, and even jam them--true story!

This side dish/salad/appetizer is a summer favorite and one of the easiest eggplant dishes to make. It is readily available at any meyhane/tavern/pub where they serve rakı, anise-flavored brandy. There are some rules associated with rakı culture and to have at least one type of eggplant salad/meze is one of them. At homes eggplant salad is usually prepared during mangal, i.e., barbecue. First eggplants are roasted and while the meats are grilled, purée is made.

Although in Turkish it is called salad, it is consumed either as a spread over slices of baguettes or as a dip for which bread morsels become scoops.

This recipe is one of the many variations of the classic eggplant purée which could be found across Mediterranean. For the classic purée simply skip the yogurt.

(1 big American eggplant makes 1 cup eggplant purée when roasted. You can decide how many eggplants to roast)

There's nothing written in stone. You can use more or less of everything.

1 big eggplant
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
~1/2 cup strained/Greek yogurt
1 clove of garlic, minced or smashed
1 tbsp parley or mint, finely chopped

-Prick the eggplant(s) a couple of times with a knife so they won't explode. On medium to high grill roast them until skin is charred and flesh completely soft. OR roast them in a pre-heated hot oven of 450F for 40-50 minutes.
-When cool enough to handle, peel the skin and mash the flesh well with the back of a fork. (Some people take the seeds out as well, but I leave them.)
-Mix in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and yogurt.
-Salt to taste.
-Garnish with parsley or mint.

Green Beans with Tomato Sauce (Zeytinyağlı Taze Fasulye)

Olive oil dishes, dishes that are cooked exclusively with quite-shocking-to-some amount of olive oil and served cold or at room temperature, are the vegetarian staples of summer tables in Turkey. I bet if you open a random fridge at any given time in Turkey you can find at least two different olive oil dish. One of the most common olive oil dish is the green beans in tomato sauce. Green beans cooked in this style are good mezes/appetizers available at any restaurant/pub and a main dish on its own served with rice/grains or crusty bread. It makes a great lunch in steamy hot summer days. What follows is a quite straightforward traditional recipe.

1 pound of fresh green beans (The ones most similar to those in Turkey are, no doubt, Italian broad beans. However, they're hard to come by. And the next best is French beans. My favorite easy to find ones are Trader Joe's Haricots Verts. These thin French green beans are so fresh and skinny that they don't need trimming of any sort, which is super time consuming yet a must for a good green bean dish. If you will use anything other than haricots verts, trim the beans and snap the tails. Cut the beans into 2 or 3, depending on their length. Don't use American green beans, not worth it.
if to find non-American fresh green beans is a challenge for you you can use 1 pack of frozen green beans that most major grocery chains sell (either french style or Italian cut, not the American ones)
1 big onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, sliced or chopped
2 big or 4 medium fresh tomatoes, finely chopped, grated, or blended or 1 can of petite diced tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
~1 cup hot water

1/8 tsp ground cumin (although not a traditional ingredient in green beans, I do love the touch of cumin in this dish)
1 tbsp tomato paste (this is a summer dish and cooked during high tomato season, yet some people do like the dark, robust color of the tomato paste or use it when they don't have enough tomatoes to supplement.)

-If you're using fresh green beans clean and trim them to 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces.
-Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot or in a pressure cooker and cook the chopped onions until soft.

-Add garlic and sugar, and stir until garlic is fragrant-1 minute.
-If you want to use tomato paste add it at this point and stir for a minute.
-Add the beans with cumin, if you're using any, and stir them until beans slightly change color (app. 4-6 mins).
-Add the tomatoes and cook for 3-5 mins and then add water and salt. Water should cover the beans completely, but not too much to make them seem like they're swimming in it.

-Cover the pan and cook with low to medium heat until the beans are soft. Approximately 25-30 minutes. If you're using a pressure cooker. Cover and cook for 12-14 minutes after it reaches high pressure.
-Regardless of in what kind of pot you cook them, you need to let it cool in the pot. Never transfer an olive oil dish from its pot until it gets to room temperature.

Olive oil dishes are traditionally served at room temperature or cold, however we won't judge if you do warm it up. They taste even better the next day. 

Pickled Red Cabbage (Kırmızı Lahana Turşusu)

The prettiest, the most vibrant pickle ever, the pickled red cabbage, is offered as a delicious meze/tapas/side at many Turkish restaurants across the country. I'm  a total pickle freak and this one is a staple in our fridge. We have it on salads, on hot sandwiches (try it on your reuben!), or simply as a side dish.

1 red cabbage, grated or very finely sliced
~2 tbsp coarse sea salt
apple vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced optional (It's not traditional, but I do like my pickled cabbages a bit garlicy and place them in the jar with just a little bit of minced garlic)

-Grate the red cabbage and rub it with coarse sea salt until it oozes its color and softens.
-Stuff the cabbage in clean glass jars.
-In a separate bowl or jar mix equal parts of water and vinegar. For one medium size cabbage I usually use 3-4 cups of vinegar mix. (If you want your pickle garlicy, add it now)
-Fill the cabbage jar with vinegar liquid all the way to the top.
-Store in the fridge.
-Your pickle will be ready to eat in 3 days and you can keep enjoying it for 2-3 months.