Seasonal vegetarian and vegan cooking from Turkey and beyond
Author: Knidos Cookery Club
Knidos Cookery Club is a blog that explores the food and drink culture around the point where the Aegean Sea meets the Mediterranean Sea in south-west Turkey. Knidos was an ancient Greek trading city - the ruins of the city can be seen on the tip of the Turkey's Datça peninsula. The Cookery Club will look at the ingredients used in this part of the world and suggest recipes you can try yourself.
Winter Solstice is upon us once again so it’s time to kick off the holiday season. If you’re looking for something a bit different for your festive feast this year, then look no further than the Hasselback potato, an attractive dish that tastes like a jacket potato crossed with a roast potato.
This method of preparation involves cutting the potato into thin slices that fan out while baking. It can be used for other vegetables like beetroot, carrot and butternut squash, as well as a sweet version using fruits like apple and quince.
Hasselback potatoes originated in Sweden with the dish featuring in a 1929 recipe book “The Princesses’ Cookbook” by Jenny Åkerström. In 1953. Lief Elisson, a rookie chef at Stockholm’s Hasselbacken restaurant, revived this method for preparing the humble spud.
To prepare the fruit or vegetables of your choice, place chopsticks or wooden spoon handles on either side and cut into thin slices until the blade hits the wood.
Four medium potatoes
25 ml olive oil
One teaspoon rosemary or thyme (fresh if available or dried)
One teaspoon cumin seeds
Put two chopsticks or the handles of two wooden spoons on either side of the potato. Cut into 1-2 mm slices, cutting until the blade hits the wood.
Put the potatoes in an ovenproof dish with the cut side facing up. Drizzle liberally with olive oil and sprinkle cumin seeds and thyme (or rosemary) over them.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 c for one hour. Serve on their own or as part of a main course with a pasty or nut roast along with your choice of side vegetables or a salad.
Looking like something between an apple and a pear, the quince comes across as an exotic addition to the fruit basket. However, this hard, astringent fruit, that needs to be cooked before eating, has a long history in Europe. It was already well-known in Ancient Rome having arrived from its home in Central Asia.
When cooked, quince turns from a yellow hue to a deep amber colour. In Spain, quince is the base for ‘Membrillo‘, a sweet jelly that is served with Manchego cheese. In Turkey, which accounts for more than a quarter of the world’s quince crop, it can often be found stewed in syrup as part of a classic Turkish breakfast spread alongside cheese and olives or baked in the oven and served with clotted cream. It’s also popular in Uzbekistan – we once had a plov garnshed with quince slices and cashews.
Quince has quite a short season, so we decided to turn our haul into a spicy, amber-coloured chutney to prolong its shelf life. Chutney is a lot more forgiving to prepare than jam – and this one is perfect be served with crackers spread with hummus or with a selection of robust cheeses.
Ingredients (makes around 500 g of chutney)
500 g quince (peeled, cored and cut into 1 cm cubes)
125 g red onion (roughly chopped)
100 g brown sugar
50 g sultanas
10 g fresh ginger (grated)
One teaspoon paprika
One cinnamon stick
250 ml apple (cider) vinegar
Put all the ingredients in a heavy-based pan. Bring to Bring to the boil and then simmer over a low heat, stirring regularly, for at least one and a half hours – it should thicken up into an amber-coloured mass.
Allow the chutney to cool and then put into sterilised glass jars (leave the jars in an oven heated to 50 c for 30 minutes prior to filling). Leave in a dark, cool, dry place for at least four weeks. Should keep for up to a year in the cupboard.
As the first snow falls here in Almaty, it’s time for some heartier fare. This recipe started out life as courgette soup, but the sudden drop in temperature called for something with a bit more oomph so we added some mung beans and dried coconut to give it a more stew-like consistency. To add a bit of colour, we sprinkled some pomegranate seeds on top and gave it a drizzle of pomegranate sauce before serving.
The delicate, thin courgettes of the summer are giving way to the robust, denser marrows of autumn – perfect for making into a soup. Mung beans are a versatile store cupboard basic – they can be added to stews or grown into bean sprouts for stir fries and salads – check out more recipe ideas here. They’re a staple in home-cooked meals in Uzbekistan, where they’re known as mash, hence the “mash up” in the name of this dish.
Ingredients (makes four servings)
1 kilo courgette
One celery stick
One medium onion
Bunch of radish leaves
200 g dried mung beans (soaked overnight)
50 g desiccated coconut
50 ml olive oil
Two teaspoons dried thyme
Two teaspoons cumin seeds
1.5 litres vegetable stock
Pomegranate seeds and Pomegranate sauce to garnish
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based pan and fry the cumin seeds until starting to crackle and then add the diced onion and cook for five minutes over a medium heat. Next add the diced celery, lower the heat and and cook for another five minutes, stirring occasionally. Cut the courgette into four pieces lengthwise and then slice into 1 cm thick chunks. Add to the pan along with the thyme and stir fry for ten minutes. Add one litre of vegetable stock and the chopped radish leaves and simmer over a low heat for twenty minutes.
While the soup is simmering, cook the mung beans in a separate pan with 500 ml vegetable stock and the coconut. Cook for twenty – thirty minutes or so until the beans are softening or until all the liquid is absorbed.
Remove around 25% of the courgette mix and blend the rest to a smooth consistency with a stick blender. Add these blended courgettes to the cooked mung beans and stir well. Bring to a boil and then add the reserved courgette mix. Pour into soup bowls, garnish with a few pomegranate seeds and a drizzle of pomegranate sauce and serve immediately.
Here in the northern hemisphere we’re moving into the “darker half” of the year with the nights growing longer and the mercury dropping rapidly. Halloween is just around the corner so it’s that pumpkin time once again. Here at KCC we’re always looking cut down food waste so this year we’ve got another idea of how to use up your excess squash – a vegan variant on Shepherd’s pie.
Halloween has its origins in the Celtic pagan festival of Samhain that marked the end of the harvest period and the onset on the dark months of winter. It was an excuse for a wild party with feasting and drinking at a time when the boundary between our world and the spiritual world was held to be at its thinnest.
Halloween, which is the evening before All Saints’ Day, 1 November, in the Christian calendar, is still the time when many remember the souls of the dead. Many Halloween traditions in North America were influenced by Irish and Scottish immigrants, harking back to the festival’s pagan roots.
The pumpkin, the round, oversized orange vegetable, native to the New World, has become a symbol of the festival. This has led to millions of pumpkins going to waste so here’s a reminder of some more of our pumpkin recipes to try and reduce the scale of this problem.
Ingredients (serves four)
500 g pumpkin
One medium onion
One stick of celery
One medium carrot
One medium green pepper
One medium courgette
Two medium tomatoes
One tablespoon tomato paste (or Turkish hot pepper paste if you can find it)
300 g cooked beans (cannellini or kidney beans 0r a mix of the two)
75 g red lentils
200 ml vegetable stock
50 ml olive oil
One teaspoon chilli flakes
One teaspoon turmeric
Clean the pumpkin by removing the hard outer skin and the seeds (if there are any) and then chop into small cubes, put into a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil and mix well. Roast in a pre-heated oven at 180 c for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the pumpkin is roasting, heat the oil in a heavy-based pan and then cook the finely chopped onion over a medium heat for five minutes. Add the diced celery, green pepper and carrots and cook for another five minutes.
Mix in the cooked beans, vegetable stock and tomato paste, chilli flakes and turmeric and stir well. When it boils, add the lentils, stir and then cook for 20 minutes or so until all the liquid is absorbed. While this is cooking, top and tail the courgettes and cut into 1cm thick rounds. Thinly slice the tomato.
Remove the pumpkin and mash with a fork or a potato masher. Put the bean mixture into the bottom of the baking dish and cover with courgette rounds. Cover the courgette with tomato slices and then pack the mashed pumpkin on top of the tomatoes. Decorate with pumpkin seeds and bake at 180 c for 30 minutes or until the top of the pie begins to char.
It’s that in-between time of year as the nights grow longer and thoughts turn towards more substantial meals after a long summer of salads and lighter fare. The last of the seasonal vegetables such as tomatoes and courgettes are perfect for stuffing and baking in the oven, making a bridge between summery salads and the heartier soups and stews of winter that are coming up.
We stuffed some courgettes with a mixture of red lentils, apricots, tomato, onion, bulgur wheat and lemon juice to make a versatile roundel that can be served as part of a main course or eaten on its own as a meze, a fully vegan alternative to the sausage roll!
The autumn fruit is at its best at the moment, and we’ve added some pear and pomegranate to an autumnal red cabbage, carrot, celery and radish salad to accompany these apricot and lentil courgette roundels to make a great lunch or supper. By adding a jacket potato, you can make it into a more filling main course.
Ingredients (makes enough mixture for 10-12 roundels)
Three medium sized courgettes
100 g red lentils
50 g dried apricots (or four fresh apricots if available)
One small red onion (approx 75 g)
One medium tomato (approx 100 g)
50 g fine bulgur wheat
25 ml olive oil
200 ml vegetable stock
Juice of half a lemon
One teaspoon cumin seeds
One teaspoon red chilli flakes
Black pepper to taste
Cut the dried apricots into eight pieces and soak in hot water for at least 30 minutes. While the apricots are soaking, heat the oil in a heavy based pan and add the cumin seeds. When they start to sizzle, add the finely chopped onion and fry over a medium heat until they start to soften. Grate the tomato into the fried onion and cook over a low heat for five minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
Now add the washed lentils, pour in the stock and stir. Cook over a low heat for 15-20 minutes until most of the water has been absorbed. Add the fine bulgur wheat, mix it in well and leave covered for 15 minutes. Drain the apricots and stir them into the mixture. Add the lemon juice, chilli flakes and black pepper to taste and mix well.
While the lentils are cooking, start to prepare the courgettes by slicing off the ends to make them flat. Cut into 3 cm slices. Gouge out the seeds with a small spoon, leaving a little bit of flesh at the bottom of the roundel.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 c. When the lentil mix is cool, pack it into the courgette roundels and stand them on a baking tray with the filling topmost. Bake at 180 c for 30 minutes or so – the courgette should still be firm and not too squidgy and the lentil mix should rise slightly and be beginning to brown on top.
Serve alongside a salad of red cabbage, carrot, celery, radish, pear and pomegranate and a jacket potato, drizzling pomegranate sauce over the roundels or allow to cool and serve the roundels as a snack on their own.
This time round on KCC, we’ve brought a recipe back from our heartland of the Datça peninsula that uses fresh almonds, lemons and olive oil to make an amandine dressing for green beans based on France’s classic almond sauce.
We had some great meze dishes on our travels around the peninsula including one made with fresh black-eyed beans – börülce in Turkish – and almonds at Ada Pansiyon on Ovabükü beach. Having failed to track down fresh black-eyed beans back in Almaty, we opted for green beans as they were available.
This dish can be served along other meze dishes – check out some of our other meze ideas here, or with bulgur, rice or pasta as more of a main course. The amandine dressing also works well with other vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower.
500 g green beans
100 g red onion
100 g almonds
50 ml olive oil
One teaspoon chilli flakes
Peel the almonds – put them in hot water for 30 seconds and then into cold water, the skins should now be easy to remove. Break the almonds into small chunks and toast in a frying pan over a low heat until they go a golden brown colour. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Top and tail the green beans and slice into 5 cm lengths. Heat the oil in the frying pan and then fry the chopped onion for five minutes and then add the beans and stir fry over a medium heat for five minutes or so – they should retain a little bit of crunch. While the beans are cooking, zest the lemon and then squeeze the juice.
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, including the lemon juice and chilli flakes and serve straight away or allow to cool if you prefer.
To celebrate being back in KCC’s spiritual homeland of the Datça peninsula, we’ve created a variation on the Moscow Mule using ingredients sourced from around the village of Mesudiye, which is on the sun-drenched southern coast of the peninsula.
Our take on this classic cocktail uses some staples grown around the peninsula our homemade fig-infused vodka of a pre-pandemic vintage, almond flavoured soda water and green lemons.
To make a Mesudiye Mule, pour 50 ml of fig vodka into a metal beaker filled with ice (we used a Greek aluminium wine jug as no copper mug was available), add 200 ml almond soda water and the juice of two green lemons. Garnish with a slice of lemon and serve with the freshest almonds you can find – cheers!
To make the fig vodka, wash and quarter 0.5 kilo of figs and put them in a steriised one litre glass jar. Pour vodka to cover the figs, put the lid on and leave in a cool, dark place for a few months before drinking. Here’s our latest batch with peach and plum added.
With Wimbledon in full swing and the British hopes fading fast, it’s time to seek some consolation in some seasonal soft fruits. Strawberries and cream, of course, is a dish associated with the tennis extravaganza in SW19.
This summer, KCC has noticed a glut of strawberry recipes in the mainstream UK press and on Instagram, using these berries in salads or in gazpacho, a cold, blended vegetable soup.
We popped along to see Gulzhaina, our local greengrocer in Almaty, but alas she only had raspberries in stock. Not to worry, though, as these tart berries are also great when used in a salad.
We served our raspberries on a bed of rocket, radish and spring onion and topped with toasted walnuts, pomegranate sauce and olive oil – a great combination on a hot summer’s day.
Continuing with our summery vibe, the year’s first green bean crops are appearing. Green beans are great for adding a bit of crunch to a stir fry or a salad, we’ve gone for the best of both worlds by mixing our green beans in with celery, carrots, spring onions and walnuts on a bed of funchoza (vermicelli) noodles, liberally dressed with soy sauce, apple vinegar and sesame seeds.
This recipe lends itself to the pictorial treatment – see below for the steps needed to assemble this summery salad. Also check out our reel on Instagram as well with an orangey red, green and gold inspired Black Uhuru backing track.