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Leeks and Carrots in Olive Oil (a la Turka!) June 18, 2014

Posted by Deniz Olcay in Healthy Eats, Quick Eats, Turkish Dishes.
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I’d consider myself a professional eater (I’ve actually been eating every day for the past 28 years), and I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two paths to success in cooking a delicious dish:

  1. Keep it simple.
  2. Ask mom.

Now, most of us might want to go route #2, because let’s face it, mom always knows best. But for those days when you’re feeling adventurous, traditional recipes just don’t satisfy one’s creative hunger.

When I say keep it simple, I don’t mean that you should throw some Chef Boyardee in the microwave. I’m referring to the rule of 3.

Use 3 main ingredients in your dish, and you’ll be surprised with how quickly you’ll be able to create a delicious dish. For this post I wanted to recreate a Turkish classic that follows this rule, which I’ve been eating since my childhood. I hope you enjoy it and are inspired to come up with your own original twist on it. Afiyet olsun (bon appetit)!

You will need:

The 3 main ingredients (you can also try tomato, green bean, and onion):

  • 2lbs of leeks (thinner the better, cut the green parts off, peel the outermost layer, wash thoroughly)
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 4 medium sized carrots

The supporting cast:

  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 tablespoons of short grain rice
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 or 2.5 cups of water
  • 3/4 cup of olive oil
  • Chopped parsley

1. Finely chop the onion and set aside.

2. Cut the green parts off of the leeks, and peel the outermost layer. When picking the leeks make sure you choose the ones that are thin. Wash thoroughly.

Chop the leeks at an angle, about an inch in length

Chop the leeks at an angle, about an inch in length

3. Using a dutch oven (if you have one) pour the 3/4 cup of olive oil and sautee the onions and chopped carrots (also cut at an angle)  for about 5 minutes.

Sautee carrots and onions for about 5 minutes.

Sautee carrots and onions for about 5 minutes.

4. Add the leeks and sautee for an additional minute or two.

Sautee the leeks for an additional minute

Sautee the leeks for an additional minute

5. Add 2 or 2.5 cups of boiling water to the pot (the water level should be equal to the level of the leeks in the pot. Don’t put too much.) Add 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the juice of half a lemon.


photo 2

Add water, salt, lemon, and sugar

6.Cook over low heat (simmering) for about 10 minutes (covered).

7. Add 4 tablespoons of rice and simmer on low heat for another 15 minutes (covered).

8. This dish should be served cold after resting for a couple hours in the fridge. You may also eat it lukewarm if you want, just let it rest in the fridge for a bit and serve. The longer this dish waits, the tastier it becomes. It makes for a great and healthy lunch.

9. Sprinkle some parsley over the plate (we eat with our eyes first, presentation is key!!), garnish with a slice of lemon, and put some fresh ground pepper on top. Enjoy!

Healthy and yummy!

Healthy and yummy!



God Bless a Chickpea & Home-Made Hummus March 15, 2010

Posted by Deniz Olcay in Middle Eastern.
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I had to reference one of my all time favorite TV shows “Friends” before starting this recipe. George Clooney said it best: “God Bless  a Chickpea”. Versatile and incredibly flavorful, there is almost no limitation to what you can do with chickpeas. Especially in Turkish cuisine, numerous dishes include chickpeas as a central ingredient. I will call a few family friends, and borrow another delicious chickpea recipe in the near future. Stay Tuned!

Meanwhile, let’s get to the recipe at hand. In recent years, I have seen an explosion of hummus brands in the USA. Known as a healthy snack, companies have not missed the opportunity to capitalize on the healthy trends that are emerging in US cities. But why purchase something that it so easy to make at home? If you have a food processor, chickpeas and tahini paste, you can make your own version of hummus in a matter of minutes. Another reason to keep these ingredients handy at home.

To accompany the perfect home-made hummus, I will also show you how to make home made pita chips. Again, you can come up with sweet variations for this (cinnamon and sugar), but I will show you how to make plain ones, which we can use for dipping into the hummus. With this recipe, your parties will be a hit!

You will need

1 can of chickpeas (approximately 2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon of sumac
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1 clove of garlic (mashed)
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of tahini
1/4 cup of water
1/6 teaspoon of salt (or to taste)
1 tablespoon of lemon juice (add more depending on your taste)
1/4 cup of parsley
Store bought pita bread

1. Wash the chickpeas in a strainer, and place them into the food processor

Wash chickpeas and place into food processor

2. Peel a garlic clove and use a garlic press to mash the 1 clove of garlic into the food processor. Use a garlic press, otherwise you might get chunks of garlic in your hummus!

Peel garlic and mash it into the food processor

3. Add 2 tablespoons of tahini, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 1/4 cup of water, 1/4 cup of parsley, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, salt to taste ( I add approximately 1/6th of a teaspoon), and 1/2 teaspoon of cumin. I also add 1/2 teaspoon of sumac, which is a red colored spice which adds a sour taste.

Add the rest of the ingredients into the food processor

4. Blend ingredients using the food processor!

Blend ingredients!

5. To make the pita chips, cut the pita bread into small triangles

Cut pita bread into small triangles

6.On a piece of foil, drizzle olive oil, black pepper and some oregano or parsley flakes on top of the pita triangles. Place in the oven for 10-12 minutes at 325 degrees.

Drizzle olive oil, black pepper and some oregano or parsley flakes

7. Serve with the hummus! Enjoy!

Garnish with pine nuts and some sumac. You can also drizzle some more olive oil.