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)


  • 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):

Slow-cooked Green Beans with Tomatoes (Zeytinyagli Fasulye)

I saw an article about braised vegetables on NY Times earlier in the month. It was dedicated to three vegetables dishes (served cold) from the Turkish kitchen. Pretty good article. I will have to admit that although I am very familiar with the ‘served cold’ vegetables of Turkish cooking (heck, I grew up on it and I even posted some here, like Barbunya, for example), I didn’t know about the three dishes in the article… I know familiar or similar ways of servings these dishes but with very different spice combinations… So, I decided to give it a try, for variety’s sake and also to make sure I can cook them with a 20/20 Lifestyles twist so they can be delicious and healthy. It only took one try to get this one right, in my opinion.

You can stick to the original recipes in the article or you can try mine. The difference is the calories and the serving method. By the way, I am getting good at taking pretty pictures of the food on my cell phone. I had two good ones for this one so I am posting both.

The flavors in the recipe are not bold (I prefer bolder) but they are fine.

Slow-cooked Green Beans with Tomatoes (Turkish recipe, 20/20 appropriate)


  • 3 Tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut in half widthwise
  • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt – OPTIONAL. DO NOT USE IF ON 20/20
  • Black pepper
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped mint
  • Thick yogurt, for serving – OPTIONAL
  • Lemon wedges, for serving – OPTIONAL

In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the onions and stir occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Add the beans, tomatoes, 1 cup water, sugar, salt and pepper and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to low, then cover and simmer until the beans are very tender, about 45 minutes.

Remove from heat, adjust the seasoning to taste and cool to room temperature, uncovered, about 45 minutes. Stir in the mint and serve with lemon wedges. You can serve with some nonfat thick Greek yogurt but I don’t think it needs it.

Makes 6 side-dish servings.

The nutritional information on the dish (without the yogurt) is as follows:

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)


  • 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:

Patlican Kizartmasi (Fried Eggplant with Tomato sauce and Garlic Yogurt)

Update in September 2011: I made this dish with eggplants from my garden. One of the best taste I’ve ever experienced… Definitely the best eggplants ever. I updated the image on the recipe with a more fashionable looking one, from the September 17th dinner. I am so proud of my little eggplant plants. A guilty pleasure in my house, this dish makes my friend Shama’s toes curl. Yep, it is that good. It made a believer in eggplant out of her. She used to despise eggplant until recently. Now she is smitten. This dish is fairly oily and heavy so while it is delicious, it is not for daily consumption. There are many recipes on this type of eggplant frying. I do it in a way I can remember eating as I was growing up. (Tonguc’un) Patlican Kizartmasi Ingredients

  • Eggplant, a medium one, Zebra peeled, cut into round, very thin slices
  • Sunflower oil, 1 cup
  • Tomatoes, 3 plum ones, chopped roughly or 1 can of diced tomatoes 
  • Onion, 1 cup, finely chopped 
  • Red chili pepper flakes
  • Sugar, ½ teaspoon
  • Non-fat strained yogurt, 12 oz (Fage brand works best)
  • Garlic, 3-4 cloves

Soak the eggplant completely in cold water with some salt for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, spray a 2-quart pan with oil spray and on medium high heat, sauté onions for 3-5 minutes. Add tomatoes, black pepper and red pepper flakes and salt if desired, with the sugar. Turn down the heat and let simmer while the eggplant is soaking. Remove from heat after about 30 minutes. You can prepare this ahead of time. In a bowl, mix the yogurt with garlic and a tablespoon of water. Set aside. Using kitchen towels, dry the eggplant. In a frying pan, heat several tablespoons of the sunflower oil on medium high heat. Fry the eggplant slices on each side, until light brown. Using copious amounts of paper towel, get as much of the oil out of the slices when you are done. Using sunflower oil, you will be able to fry quickly and without as much oil soaked in the eggplant (as it would, if you were to use olive oil). Serve immediately. Lay the eggplant on a plate. Then top it with the tomato mixture, and then the yogurt. Serving size is 2 slices, with generous tomato and yogurt mixture on top. Serves 6-10, depending on how thin you were able to slice… More slices you have, more oil you will use. Takes about 45 minutes to put this altogether. Here is the nutrition information on this recipe:

Kirmizi Sogan Salatasi (Red Onion and Sumac Salad)

Sumac is a red/purplish sweet and spicy spice that you can find in any middle eastern grocery store/deli. It is usually served with kebabs and other grilled meats but I like it best in this tangy, lemony red onion salad.


  • 1 small red onion, cut into ridiculously thin slices
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • A generous handful of Italian Parsley, coarsely chopped
  • Juice from half of a lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp, Sumac
  • Salt – OPTIONAL
  • Black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes – OPTIONAL

In a mixing bowl, toss the onions, olive oil and tomatoes with your hands. Add sumac, parsley and half of the lemon juice. Continue tossing using your hands. Taste to see if it is tart enough. It should taste sweet and spicy and tart. Add more lemon and sumac as needed. Season with black pepper and red pepper flakes as well as salt, if using (I don’t).

Serves 4. Takes about 15 minutes to prepare.

Here is the nutrition information on this recipe:

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