recipes from the table of the vegan vulcan

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

le bistro turkish

OK, I know the title of the post is kind of corny.

I ate this meal just about every day when I was in Turkey, and I loved it to death. Somehow, I did not get sick of it, and I still make it frequently.

Cucumber Tomato Salad

2 lg. cucumber, seeded and chopped
1 lg or 2 medium organic or home-grown tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
3 tbs. rice wine vinegar
2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 a lemon
sea salt
black pepper

Toss cukes, tomatoes, and parsley in a medium bowl. Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper. Pour over the vegetables and toss well. Add salt and pepper to taste (if you're going for authenticity, salt the beejeezus out of it). Allow the salad to sit for at least 15 minutes outside the fridge. The acid in the dressing will keep it safe.

Use tomatoes that taste like something for this dish-- avoid your typical supermarket variety. Also, don't put it in the fridge, because it will kill the taste of the tomatoes.

Mercemek Corba (Red Lentil Soup)

1 lg. onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 lg. carrot, diced
1 tb. tomato paste
3 tbs. flour
1 scant cup red lentils (red is important for texture)
4 c. vegetable stock or water
1 tb. salt
1/2 tb. Turkish red pepper or Italian spicy red pepper flakes
lemon wedges

In a large soup pot, sautee onions, celery, and carrot until onions are translucent. Plop in the tomato paste and stir until well distributed. Gradually add the flour, stirring constantly until cooked (you're making a roux). Whisk in the stock or water, and bring to a boil. Add the salt and the red lentils, and lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer 25-30 minutes, or until lentils are soft, have turned yellow, and have broken down. Taste for seasoning. At this point, add the Turkish pepper.

Take the soup off the heat, and then either cool and puree small batches in a blender until smooth, or use an immersion blender (my favorite method, because you don't have to wait). Make sure the soup is smooth!

Serve with lemon wedges squeezed into it (I like mine lemony), cucumber and tomato salad, and crusty bread. For a truly authentic experience, also serve with strong, bitter tea with lots of sugar in it.


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