I went to a Turkish grocery store this weekend and was reminded how much I adore Turkish cuisine. I finally found red pepper paste, which I couldn’t find in Turkey outside Istanbul. I also picked up rose water and orange blossom water. I also know where to go when my Aleppo chili flakes run out. My 200g stash from Safranbolu cost me 2 YTL (~$1.30) and will hopefully last a while, though.
I travelled to Turkey for two weeks in April and while the first thing I did when I arrived back was gather Turkish cookbooks from the library, I have yet to cook something Turkish since my return. After my trip to Marche Istanbul, I was brought back to my feasts in Turkey. The food there was fabulous, often from very simple ingredients. I was adamant I would delve back to Turkey in my kitchen.
While I quickly associate pistachios with Turkey, Turkey is actually the world’s largest producer of hazelnuts. Hazelnuts, also known as filberts, have a rich delicious flavour and are commonly used in desserts – just think of the fabulous chocolate hazelnut spread, Nutella! In this dish, hazelnuts are used in a savoury salad. They are ground to a paste to form a creamy, lemony sauce.
While I didn’t try this dish while in Turkey, I spotted a baked zucchini and apple salad with a lemon hazelnut sauce (taratorlu kabak) in The Food and Cooking of Turkey by Ghillie Basan and adapted it slightly. The winner in this recipe is the lemon hazelnut sauce. It is deliciously creamy with the roasted hazelnuts ground to a thick paste with garlic, and then infused with fresh lemon juice and olive oil. It was added to baked zucchini and apples and then sprinkled with chopped hazelnuts. The sweet apples add a nice accent, and it is paramount to pick an apple that holds its shape after cooking (I used Golden Delicious). As Basan notes, the dressing pairs well with many fruits and vegetables (plums, eggplant, squash, bell pepper, etc). I baked the zucchini and think it was good but it would be even more succulent if the veggies were grilled (says the one without a barbecue).
Lastly, I wanted to thank everyone who voted for my Mexican Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing in the last round of No Croutons Required. I am honoured to have been picked as the May winner, especially as there were many tasty dishes on the menu. This is my submission to this month’s theme focusing on zucchini and to Preeti’s Green Gourmet Event at W’Rite’ Food as well as to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays (which also includes salads).