Babagannush

Yes, yes, people spell it in various ways but in Turkish, there is no baba ganoush… It is babagannush (well, s with a dot underneath… I am putting the h at the end to give the sh sound). Simple, straightforward. Now with the blasphemous invention of roasted eggplant in a jar (oh the horror… so salty but damn the gods, so easy and consistently smokey flavored. Seriously though, if using a jar, drain and rinse it prior to use).

This is a good, quick spread that you can serve on a cracker or pita. Make sure you are not overdoing the pita or chips… This is a great dish to serve as a side to chicken or beef as well… Totally doable without  any scooping. Don’t give in to the American thinking that “if it is scoopable, then it must be a spread.” It doesn’t have to be.

Babagannush

Ingredients

  • 3 medium eggplants
  • 1 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • A pinch of chili powder
  • A pinch of cumin
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Half bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Prick each eggplant a few times with a fork and place on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until they’re completely soft; you should be able to easily poke a paring knife into them and meet no resistance. Remove from oven and let cool. Split the eggplant and scrape out the pulp, draining any liquid.  Chop the pulp to break strings of eggplant but not until it’s totally mushy.

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients until well mixed. Taste and season with additional salt and lemon juice, if necessary. Chill for a few hours before serving. Serve with crackers, sliced baguette, or toasted pita chips.

Storage: You can refrigerate Babagannușh for up to five days prior to serving.

Makes 8 servings.

Here are the nutritional facts:

Kapuska (Cabbage with Rice, Chicken Breast and Bell Peppers)

Cabbage. I grew up hating it. With a passion. The stench of boiling cabbage. Reheated cabbage. Anything cabbage. Then one day in 2008, I craved it. Not sure where it came from. Maybe there was some cabbage in the weekly CSA (community supported agriculture) delivery. I searched online for recipes (specifically the Turkish dish I was craving, called Kapuska) and I came across at least 200 different recipes. Some with rice, some with beef, others with bulgur. After trying a few versions, I made up my own. I replaced the beef with ground turkey breast or chicken breast. I settled on rice. I went for a one-pot type of solution, rather than boiling the cabbage ahead and then cooking it even more afterwards.

Earlier this summer, there were a string of cabbage deliveries with our CSA boxes so I went back to the old favorite. I made it 20/20 Lifestyles appropriate. I love how it turned out.

Kapuska (Turkish recipe for Cabbage with Rice, Bell Peppers and Ground Turkey Breast, 20/20 appropriate)

Ingredients

  • A small head of cabbage, any variety (use half of red, half of green for a more colorful dish)
  • 16 oz chicken breast, boneless, roughly cut into chunks (if not available, use ground turkey breast)
  • 2 bell peppers, red or orange or a combination, roughly chopped
  • 2 roma tomatoes, grated (if not available, use half a cup of canned crushed tomatoes)
  • 2 Tbsps hot red pepper paste, (use tomato paste if not available)
  • 3 Tbsps olive oil
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup brown rice,
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt to taste– OPTIONAL. DO NOT USE IF ON 20/20
  • 1 Tbsps red chili flakes, 1 tablespoon – OPTIONAL
  • Thick yogurt, for serving – OPTIONAL

In a 6-quart pan or a dutch oven, combine all ingredients (except optional items and items for serving such as thick yogurt). Let cook, covered on medium-low heat for 40 minutes. At the end of the period, mix the dish with a wooden spoon to “test done-ness” of cabbage. It should be translucent and soft. If not ready, cook on low heat for another 20 minutes or so. The rice should be firm but not hard. Adjust seasoning. Serve with thick, non-fat Greek yogurt, if desired.

Note: I know, I know. It sounds crazy. I am not used to just dumping ingredients into a pot and walking away. But it works.

Makes 6 servings.

The nutritional information (without the yogurt):

Barbunya (Pinto Beans with Tomatoes, Carrots)

This is a dish from my childhood… I remember hating this dish (with a passion) for the best part of my young life. Just when I found an appreciation, it was time to leave… Now, I finally found a balanced recipe (my own, from many attempts based on online recipes) that works…. Not better than my mom’s, of course. Is anything really ever better than mom’s though? Or is it the memories associated with those meals that makes it ‘taste’ better? Discussion for another time)

Zeytinyagli Barbunya (Pinto Beans with Tomatoes, Carrots)

Ingredients

  • Pinto Beans, 3-4 cups, soaked overnight
  • Onion, 1 large
  • Anaheim Peppers, 2 of them, chopped
  • Carrots, 3-4 medium ones, cut into mini cylinders or half moons
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Pepper paste, 2 tbsp
  • Garlic, 5-6 cloves, minced
  • Sugar, 1 teaspoon
  • Italian parsley, handful, chopped
  • Lemon, half of one, juiced
  • Black Pepper, to taste
  • Salt – OPTIONAL

In a pressure cooker, cook the beans to appropriate doneness (8-12 minutes to “firm but not hard, soft but not mushy” consistency). Alternatively, boil the beans in a deep pan with enough water for 20-30 minutes.

In a Dutch oven or a 6-qt pan, heat the oil on medium high heat. Sauté the onions and the garlic for 3 minutes. Add the carrots and sauté for 3 more minutes. Add the pepper paste, tomatoes, sugar, salt (don’t add salt, if on 20/20) and black pepper. Sauté for 3 more minutes. Add the peppers and the beans. Stir well. Add a cup of water. Bring to boil and then turn down the heat. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

When the cooking period is done, mix in the parsley. After the dish is chilled, stir in the lemon juice. Add more lemon juice and Italian parsley as desired while serving.

Serves 10. Small portions, great soothing taste.

Here is the nutrition information on this recipe:

Humus (With Only One M)

This is an easy to make hummus recipe. There are many flavors of hummus out there these days. In fact, anyone with a food processor and a can of garbanzo beans thinks he or she made hummus. Well, she/he didn’t. Humus should be with tahini, garbanzo beans, lemon, garlic and cumin. Rest can be monkeyed with… You can find tahini (oily sesame seed paste) in any grocery store these days.

Humus

Ingredients

  • Garbanzo Beans, canned or from dried, 2 cups
  • Tahini, 1-1.5 tablespoon
  • Garlic, 2 cloves, minced
  • Lemon Juice, 1-2 tsp
  • Red Chili Pepper Flakes, 1 tbsp or to taste
  • Olive Oil, 1 tbsp
  • Hot Water, 1 cup or more
  • Cumin, 1 tbsp or to taste
  • Black Pepper, to taste
  • Sun dried tomatoes, 3-4 tbsp – OPTIONAL
  • Salt, to taste – OPTIONAL

If using canned beans, wash them in hot water for a few minutes to reduce the sodium. If using dried ones, get the beans to “firm but not hard, soft but not mushy” state in the pressure cooker or by boiling them in water (the former a 20-minute from beginning to end, the latter a 40+ minute engagement).

In the food processor, mix the beans, tahini, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, sun-dried tomatoes if using, lemon and hot water, until paste consistency. Taste to adjust garlic, lemon and spice levels. I’d recommend start with low amounts of the spices and lemon and water. There is no turning back once you over do any of the ingredients.

If you do overdo things like lemon or salt, try adding more garbanzo beans and water. If the mixture is not runny enough, then add more water.

The texture should be such that if you pick some up with fork, it should be somewhat runny but not dripping… If you were to scoop with a cracker, it would stay put and not swiftly find its way on your shirt or the floor/counter.

Serve with crackers or toasted whole wheat pita. Nutritional values presented below does not account for crackers or pita.

Makes 2-2.5 cups or 6-8 servings. The whole thing takes about 15 minutes.

Here is the nutrition information on this recipe:

Tonguc’s Version of “Shepherd’s” Salad

This is my interpretation of Turkish salads that I grew up on. It may not register as a typical Turkish salad to many who are Turkish. However, the combination is distinctly so. The minty, tangy flavors with fresh vegetables are like no other. Now if only I could use fresh vegetables from Turkey, instead of Pamela Anderson of vegetables like we find here (and yes, I use organic crap but they are are just as crappy, only more expensive).

Tonguc’s Not So Turkish Salad

Ingredients

  • Cucumber, 1 peeled and seeded, finely chopped
  • Tomato, 2 plum ones, finely chopped
  • Onion, half of a medium, finely chopped (scallions or red onions OK)
  • Bell Pepper, 1 medium, preferably red or orange, finely chopped
  • Olive Oil, 1-2 tablespoon or to taste
  • Lemon Juice, juice from half
  • Garbanzo beans, 2 cups (can is OK, preferably cooked from dried)
  • Mint, 2 tsp if dried, 2 tablespoon if fresh
  • Dill, pinch if dried, 1-2 teaspoon if fresh
  • Red Pepper Flakes, 1 teaspoon
  • Black Pepper, to taste
  • Feta Cheese, fat free, 2 tablespoon – OPTIONAL
  • Salt, to taste – OPTIONAL

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except feta. Mix well. Adjust seasoning and spices. It should taste minty and tangy. Transfer to a salad bowl and dress up with feta and sprinkle some more red pepper flakes for looks. If you have Italian parsley handy, decorate with it.

Serves 2, if accompanying this with protein and serving as dinner. If this is part of a larger dinner, than you can break it down to as much as 6-8 servings (0.25 cup each)

Note: The finer you chop, the more nuanced the tastes will be.

Here is the nutrition information:

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