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Vegetarian Turkey

Posted Jan 04 2010 5:39pm

I toured Turkey two years ago and I’ve been in love with its cuisine ever since. Being largely a land of kebap (aka MEAT) dishes, however, many of the most traditional recipes are not very veg-friendly. Sad face. Enter Cooking Light’s October 2009 issue, complete with a feature on “Everyday vegetarian Mediterranean main dishes.” Happy face!

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Last week, I finally got around to trying their recipe for Turkish Carrots and Lentils. I made a few of my own tweaks (because honestly, what kind of food blogger would I be if I could actually follow a recipe?) and topped my serving with a few mezzes, courtesy of the Mezzetta samples sent to me by the lovely Brita Rosenheim.

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Those jalapeno stuffed olives pack a whollop, beware! I kinda love them, though. They’ve got a kick, but pleasantly so. And the artichoke hearts are marinated in a delicious dressing. All very complimentary to my lentils! Add a few kalamata olives for diversity and we’ve got ourselves a right fine meal.

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Turkish Carrots and Lentils
(adapted from October 2009’s Cooking Light magazine)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup uncooked dried green lentils
  • 1.5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • 1/2 lb frozen chopped spinach
  • 1/2 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 lb carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 1.5 cups; baby carrots work too)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, divided

Directions:

  1. Combine 1.5 cups water and lentils in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and spinach; cook until thoroughly defrosted, about 10 minutes or to the point where you are sauteeing.
  3. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and pepper; cook 30 seconds. Stir in carrots and 1/4 tsp salt; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  4. When lentils are tender, uncover, increase heat to medium-high and stir in onion-spinach mixture; cook 2 minutes or until any remaining liquid is nearly evaporated.
  5. Stir in remaining 1/4 tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve as is or cover with a kitchen towel and cool to room temperature.*

*Cooking Light recommends garnishing each serving with a dollop of Greek yogurt and fresh dill sprigs. As I mentioned above, I chose to garnish with mezzes/antipasti of olives and artichokes. I’m sure the yogurt would be nice too, though!

Serves 2

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This recipe is a great example of the best that Turkish cuisine has to offer: healthy fats, legumes, a variety of vegetables and flavor up the hoo-hah. Hearty and filling, too!

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Have you ever tried Turkish food?

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