Thursday, December 11, 2014

Quinoa Pilaf with Garbanzo Beans - Nohutlu Kinoa Pilavı

Quinoa Pilaf with Garbanzo Beans
OK, I admit I did not know what quinoa was until just a few years ago. But then, who did? I was trying to stay away from white rice and was very proud to use bulgur (cracked wheat) as an alternative for pilafs. After all, bulgur is whole wheat and has low glycemic index, it was all good. Since I add vegetables and garbanzo beans to it, I was very happy to cook nutritious bulgur pilafs. That is until we all learned about gluten and what it could do to our bodies, our brains. Naturally, I got myself a bag of "organic quinoa" and cooked it exactly per the directions on the bag. It was soggy and pretty much tasteless. My husband's comment was "this is bird food, why did you cook it?". I had to experiment with the way I cooked it. First lesson to learn was "not to follow the instructions" on the bag. You actually need less water than they tell you to cook with. I wanted enhance the taste, so I added lots of onions, bell peppers and garbanzo beans, black pepper and turmeric and voila! The result was a delicious alternative to rice and bulgur pilafs. Now all of my family (including the hubby) are not only used to it, but they actually like it a lot. This is a very simple recipe, but it will make quinoa an everyday dish on your table. Enjoy!


  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1 15 oz can garbanzo beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne or crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Wash and drain quinoa. Saute onions in olive oil in a pan over medium high heat for about 2 minutes. Add chopped bell peppers, continue to saute until vegetables are wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Add boiling water and the rest of the ingredients, cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let it simmer until the water is absorbed. Remove and serve hot.

Note: This dish freezes very well. You can make a big batch and freeze some in small containers to be used later. It does not lose it taste or texture by freezing.

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!
Quinoa Pilaf Ingredients
Quinoa Pilaf sauteed onions
Quinoa Pilaf sauteed onions and peppers
Quinoa Pilaf cooking
Quinoa Pilaf cooked
Quinoa Pilaf with Garbanzo Beans

Monday, December 1, 2014

Hummus with Red Beets - Pancarlı Humus

Hummus with Red Beets

  • 1 small-medium beet (1 cup)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 table spoons tahini (sesame paste)
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • Juice of 1 lemon (2-3 table spoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin (optional)
  • 1/4 tea spoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • 3-4 table spoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons pistachios, shelled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped (optional)
Place beet and water in a pot, bring to a boil over medium high heat. Lower the heat to medium and let it simmer until the beet is tender (15- 20 minutes). Let it cool to room temperature. Peel, cut into 1/2 in cubes and set aside.

Place all ingredients other than the garnish ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a serving plate. Drizzle olive oil over the hummus. Sprinkle with pistachios and fresh dill. Serve with pita bread wedges or crackers.

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

Red beets
Ingredients ready
Hummus with Red Beets

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Weaved Puff Pastry Cheese Rolls - Örgülü Peynirli Puf Böreği

Weaved Puff Pastry Cheese Rolls

If you want a very easy recipe for borek, this is it!
You'll use puff pastry right out of the freezer.
It's not only easy to prepare, but it looks very appetizing.

  • 8 squares of puff pastry (mine measured 5"x5" ea)
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tea spoon water to thin the yolk
  • 1 tea spoon black caraway seeds

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
For the filling, mix cheeses and chopped greens in a small bowl, set aside.
Place frozen puff pastry on a clean flat surface to allow it to thaw just for a few minutes. You don't want it to thaw to room temperature since it gets sticky when as it gets warm, becoming hard to handle.
Leaving the middle 1/3 of the dough intact, cut 4 horizontal lines on both right and left sides of  the dough as shown in the photo below. Place a spoonful of cheese filling in the middle of the square dough. Starting at the top right, fold down the first strip on the right hand side towards the middle of the dough at a 45 degree angle, covering the filling. Then, do the same with the top strip on the left hand side. Repeat these steps until you wrap the strips criss-cross over the filling. Place the pastry on parchment paper. Prepare the other pastry squares the same way, set aside.

In a small bowl, using a whisk, thin the egg yolk with a teaspoon of water. Brush it over the pastry rolls. Sprinkle caraway seeds on top. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. First transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to absorb any excess grease, then transfer to a serving platter.
Serve hot or warm.

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!
Cheeses, parsley, dill and egg yolk
Make cuts on each side 1 inch apart
Start folding down the strips at an angle over the filling
Fold down all of the strips and secure the end by pressing
Brush egg yolk and sprinkle caraway seeds
Weaved Puff Pastry Rolls with Cheese filling

Weaved Puff Pastry Rolls with Cheese filling

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Simple and Delicious Green Lentil Salad with Herbs - Maydanozlu Yeşil Mercimek Salatası

 Green Lentil Salad with Herbs

My friend Zinnur, ever so busy, somehow always finds time to get the friends together at her house. This salad was everybody's favorite at the last dinner party she had. Simple, yet delicious lentil salad. Cumin gives the salad its authentic Middle Eastern flavor and of course as a natural remedy for gas and indigestion, it goes very well with lentils as it does with beans. Cumin also has antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-diabetic properties. So, enjoy the flavor and feel good about eating this salad.

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 1 tea spoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 table spoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 45-5 green onions (about 1/2 cup), finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Bring water to a boil in a pot over medium high heat. Add rinsed lentils and a teaspoon of salt, stir. When it starts to boil, reduce heat to low and let it simmer until lentils are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain, do NOT rinse lentils; place them in a bowl. Add olive oil while lentils are still hot. This allows lentils absorb the flavor. Wait until lentils cool down to room temperature. Taste the lentils, if they need salt, add salt to your taste. Add all other ingredients, gently stir with a spoon. Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with a few sprigs of parsley. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Afiyet olsun! Bon Appetit!

Dry Green Lentils

Green onions, parsley and cumin

Green Lentil Salad ready to be tossed

Green Lentil Salad with Herbs

Friday, November 7, 2014

Roasted Bell Peppers in Lemon Garlic Sauce - Tarator Soslu Közlenmiş Patlıcan

Tarator is a garlic-olive oil based sauce that is commonly used in summer salads in Western Turkey. Cooked long string beans (börülce), zucchini, peppers of all kinds are transformed into zesty salads simply by adding the tarator sauce to them. If you were to make it the old fashioned way, here's what you do: First garlic and salt are made into a paste with a mortar and pestle. Then in a bowl, as you continuously twirl this garlic paste in the same direction, you ever so slowly add small amounts of olive oil. This mixture slowly starts to thicken and starts looking like a creamy mayonnaise. When it is "just the right consistency", you add lemon juice and water to the sauce. Knowing when to stop adding olive oil is the tricky part. Because if you add more than you should, then the oil and garlic will separate and it will no longer look creamy. Back in the day, in our neck of the woods, this used to be a measure of how good a cook a woman is. Nowadays, one no longer has to master this craft thanks to blenders and food processors,

The sauce can be prepared in advance and can be stored in the refrigerator like any salad dressing.

If you like, you can roast fresh peppers and make it more authentic, however, roasted peppers that come in a jar work well since the sauce add plenty of flavor. Enjoy!

Roasted Bell Peppers in Lemon Garlic Sauce - Taratorlu Kozlenmis Patlican
  • 1 19oz jar or roasted bell peppers
  • 6-7 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1-2 lemons
  • ½ cup water
  • Salt to taste


  • ¼ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped


Rinse and drain the roasted bell peppers, pat dry with a paper towel, cut into bite-size pieces, arrange them in a serving dish.
To prepare the dressing, mince garlic with a garlic press. Place garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and salt into a food processor or a blender. Blend until it is smooth. It will thicken as it emulsifies. Taste to see if you need to add more lemon juice or salt. Add water and mix again.
Pour dressing over the roasted bell peppers. Garnish with chopped walnuts. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!


Roasted bell peppers cut into pieces

Roasted Bell Peppers in Lemon-Garlic Sauce

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Eggplants, Peppers & Tomatoes in Olive Oil - Kırlı Kızartması

Eggplants, Peppers & Tomatoes in Olive Oil

Literally meaning “peasant fries”, Kirli Kizartmasi is a local dish from Aydin province in the Aegean region of Turkey. It is traditionally made with summer vegetables first fried in olive oil and then simmered in a pot to blend all the tastes together. Once I tasted a healthy version of this at my friend Ayla's house, I was not going back to frying, since it was absolutely delicious. The trick was to let it simmer for about an hour and a half to two hours over very low heat.

  • 6 small to medium size Japanese eggplants
  • 2 sweet red or green bell peppers
  • 3 medium tomatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 2 heads of garlic (yes, not cloves), peeled
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup yogurt for serving (optional)

Wash and dry the eggplants. Remove tops, peel eggplants lengthwise in stripes (see the picture below). Starting at the non-stem end, cut it lengthwise until about 1 1/2 inches from the stem. Do not cut all the way through. Make another cut lengthwise at 90 degrees to the first cut. Place eggplants on the bottom of a large port.

Wash peppers, remove stems and seeds from inside. Cut the peppers lengthwise into about 1/2 inch thick strips. Put the pepper strips over the eggplants as the second layer.

Peel and cut the onions in half. Then cut each half into 1/8 inch thick slices.  Place onions over the peppers. 

Peel garlic cloves. If the cloves a very big, cut them in half. Place garlic cloves evenly on the top. 

Wash and peel the tomatoes. Cut them in quarters, then slice each piece into 1/4 inch slices. Place tomato slices over all the vegetables evenly. 

Drizzle olive oil over the layers of vegetables. Then sprinkle salt and pepper over the tomatoes.

Turn on the heat to medium. Once it starts to simmer, lower the heat to very low and let it simmer for about an hour and a half to two hours. You won’t need to add any water to the pot since it will simmer in vegetables' own juices.  However, if you are in a hurry, you can add a cup of boiling water and simmer on medium heat. It takes about 20 minutes to cook. Check to see if the vegetables are very tender. Once it is cooked, remove from the heat. Transfer to a serving dish.  It can be eaten hot or at room temperature. Can be served with plain yogurt on the side (optional).

Bon Appetit! Afiyet Olsun!

Garlic peeled

Sliced Onions

Eggplants peeled
Add peppers (red)
Add green peppers if you prefer
Add onions and garlic
Add tomatoes
Eggplants, Peppers & Tomatoes in Olive Oil

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Red Beet Green Apple Salad

Red Beet Green Apple Salad

I don't believe there are any Turkish recipes that use raw beets. Typically in Turkish Cuisine, beets are cooked before they are added to salads or mezes. That said, when I was visiting my family in Izmir in April, one of our long time family friends, Yildiz abla made us a beet salad to die for. Simple, yet delicious, a bright colored, zesty salad made with raw beets, green apples, herbs and walnuts. Enjoy!

  • 1 large or two small red beet
  • 1 large green apple (Granny Smith)
  • ¼ cup fresh dill, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped (optional)
  • ½ cup fine bulgur
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 table spoon pomegranate paste/molasses (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A few sprigs of parsley or dill for garnish

Peel the red beet, wash and grate using the fine side of the grater. Place it in a large bowl.

Wash and grate the green apple using the coarse side of the grater. Add it to the bowl. 

Place bulgur in a separate bowl. Add boiling water to it. Stir with a spoon, let it sit for a couple of minutes allowing bulgur to soak the water in. Using a strainer, drain excess water. Add bulgur to the bowl, mix with a spoon.

Finely chop dill and parsley.  Add the herbs and chopped walnuts to the bowl. Mix gently with a spoon. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, pomegranate paste (optional), salt and pepper. Stir with a spoon. Cover the bowl and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes allowing all the flavors to come out.

Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with fresh parsley or dill leaves.

Bon Appetit! Afiyet Olsun!
Peeled beet, green apple, dill and parsley
Finely Grated Beets

Coarsly Grated Greeen Apples

Chopped dill and parsley

Bulgur soaked in hot water

Chopped walnuts

Red Beet Green Apple Salad


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cauliflower Tabule Salad

Cauliflower Tabule (Tabbouleh) Salad - Karnıbahar Kısırı

Tabule (Tabbouleh) is a traditional Lebanese salad made with fine bulgur, finely chopped herbs, seasoned with olive oil and lemon juice. Turkish version, called “Kısır”, has less green herbs, sometimes with added chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. My friend Semra suggested that I try using cauliflowers instead of bulgur. Hesitantly I gave it a try and the result was a delicious salad with less calories and no gluten.

Cauliflower Tabule Salad

  • 2 cups cauliflowers
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh dill, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A few sprigs of mint for garnish


Remove cauliflower florets from the cauliflower head, discarding the stems. Wash and drain. Place in a food processor and chop until florets turn into small particles. Place cauliflower in a large bowl.

Finely chop all herbs. Cut tomatoes into small pieces. Add all into the bowl. Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Mix well with a spoon. Cover the bowl and let it chill in the refrigerator allowing flavors to mix. 

Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.

Bon Appetit! Afiyet Olsun!

Finely Chopped Cauliflowers
Finely Chopped Herbs
Chopped Tomatoes
All ingredients mixed
Cauliflower Tabule Salad