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).
Zucchini and Apple Salad with a Lemon Hazelnut Sauce
2 firm, fat zucchini
2 sweet apples (I used Golden Delicious which keep their shape nicely)
2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp roasted hazelnuts, chopped, to garnish
2/3 cup (4 oz/115g) hazelnuts, roasted and peeled (peeling is much easier after roasting them)
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp honey or molasses
approximately 3-4 tbsp water, or more, to thin to your desired consistency
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Using a vegetable peeler, partially peel the zucchini in stripes. Slice them on the diagonal. Quarter and core the apples then cut each quarter into 2-3 segments.
2. Place the zucchini and apple slices in an ovenproof dish and pour the olive oil over the top. Mix vegetables to incorporate the olive oil. Roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown.
3. Meanwhile, make the nut sauce. Using a mortar and pestle, or a food processor, pound the hazelnuts with the garlic to form a thick paste.
4. Gradually beat in the oil and lemon juice, until the mixture is quite creamy. Sweeten with the molasses or honey and season to taste. Slowly whisk in the water to obtain your desired consistency – I was looking for something creamy and on the thinner side.
5. Arrange the roasted zucchini and apple on a serving dish and drizzle with the nut sauce over them. Sprinkle with the roasted hazelnuts over the top and serve while still warm.