the other turkey

November 27th, 2015

I stumbled upon a patch of mint in the side yard last week and the prospect of creating a Thanksgiving meal suddenly changed from dreary to dreamy. I’m amongst a tiny minority of people who don’t like turkey and an even tinier minority of people who don’t like potatoes, so a Thanksgiving meal is especially challenging, although I’ve certainly performed that chore of love dozens of times.

The mint-inspired possibilities started to percolate and a Meze platter was beginning to take shape with a decidedly Turkish flare. Some Acılı Ezme Salatası, a warm and spicy Patlicanli Pilav, a nutty Amolesilli Lobio, and a cooling dollop of Cacik seemed just the ticket for a tasty Turkey dinner.

I discovered Turkish cuisine while living in Vienna, Austria and it has always remained flavorfully memorable. Austria can also thank Turkey for its now famous Viennese Coffee House Culture.  During the second Turkish siege in 1683, which was thwarted, several sacks of strange beans were found and presumed to be camel feed. It was coffee!

As with the traditional dinner that features a large bird, this meal took three days to prepare, largely because so many varieties of beans needed to be soaked and then cooked. The house smelled of a magical combination of herbs, ginger, garlic, aromatic spices, and citrus and the finished plate a colorful painter’s palette of palate-pleasing textures.

Thanksgiving Treats

Thanksgiving Treats

Related Recipes

Acılı Ezme Salatası

A great Turkish condiment – goes with everything.

Makes approximately 2 cups.

  • 1 medium tomato, diced small
  • 1 medium onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 yellow Bell pepper, very finely chopped
  • 1 red Bell pepper, very finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh mint, chopped
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sumac (or smoked paprika)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt

Combine vegetables, herbs and spices in a bowl. Season with lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt. Refrigerate for several hours prior to serving.

Cacik

The Turkish version of Tzatziki and Raita.

Makes approximately 2 cups.

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup English cucumber, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Refrigerate for several hours prior to serving.

Patlicanli Pilav

A savory and aromatic pilaf from Turkey!

Serves four, as a side dish.

  • 1 eggplant, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
  • ½ yellow onion, sliced very thinly
  • 1 tomato, cut into a small dice
  • 4-5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 ¼ cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon Sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Lemon wedges, optional garnish

Rinse rice until water becomes clear. Drain in a strainer and set aside.

Place eggplant cubes in a colander and sprinkle liberally with salt. Allow to sit (over a bowl or in the sink) for one hour. Rinse the cubes thoroughly, drain, and pat dry with paper towels.

Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet until hot. Carefully add eggplant and sauté until golden brown. Remove from skillet and set aside.

In a medium sauce pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add chopped onion and cook until softened. Stir in the tomato, eggplant, mint, parsley, sea salt and pepper.  Cook until bubbling.

Add the rice and chicken stock. Do not stir! Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer with the lid on for 20-30 minutes until rice is tender and water has been absorbed.

Copyright © Katherine Stetson, all rights reserved.