A Turkish lunch

Ever since I was a teenager when my family lived in Turkey I’ve loved Turkish food and often cook the dishes I remember from those years, as my mother did too for the rest of her life.  She was a vegetarian so it was a cuisine that suited her perfectly. Today for lunch we ate some variations on old favourites.  Most of the preparation was done yesterday so it made for a very easy Sunday morning.

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Clockwise from the left: Kandil dolma peppers stuffed with rice and minced meat; black olives; purée of red pepper and pistachio; stuffed baked aubergines; hummus with tahina.

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I’ve put the recipe for the aubergines on my Food from the Mediterranean blog. 

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The stuffed kandil dolma peppers were a variation on what has become a theme of the summer – these are red unlike the green ones I used earlier in the summer.  I used to think that the green ones tasted better and last year we allowed just a few to ripen so that we could save seeds, but since I realised that cooking them in tomato sauce rather than baking them really brings out the flavour of the peppers I think the red ones are equally good, and pretty too!  I’ll confess that I used beef for these rather than my preferred lamb because it’s difficult to get lamb here, especially minced lamb, but easy to buy steacks hachés – burgers made with 100% beef.  I bought two, used one for the stuffing and put the other in the freezer for next time.  I rarely buy beef as I prefer to eat more locally produced meat and there are no cows anywhere near here because we don’t have the grass they need.

The red pepper and pistachio purée was a variation, brought about by necessity, of a Turkish dish that combines red pepper and walnuts.  The village shop didn’t have walnuts yesterday so I bought pistachios instead with excellent results.  I put 75 grams of shelled pistachios in the blender and turned them into a slightly lumpy powder, added a piece of day-old bread and two long sweet Spanish peppers from the garden, blended them all to a purée and added some olive oil, some salt and a squeeze of lemon.  It’s good for dipping crusty bread into.

The hummus was made by combining a tin of (drained) chickpeas in the blender with garlic to taste (we like quite a lot), salt, lemon juice, olive oil, tahina (sesame seed) paste and a little water to make the consistency right for dipping bread into it, then serving it garnished with olive oil and paprika.

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