Turkish local cuisines have many surprises for every traveller who roams upon the culturally rich Anatolia. Even though many foreigners think that the Middle East influenced Kebab is the sole thing that we devour all the time, the truth is far from that. In every corner of the country there is a different recipe inherited from ancient civilizations, created by the diversity of produces. Every geographical area has a distinct style of cooking.
Braising vegetables in Olive Oil is a really old Aegean technique which creates incredibly light, fresh and tasty dishes. Typically the main vegetable cooked with sweated onions, a little bit of sugar or cinnamon, and a good amount of quality olive oil. Lid on, slow cooked vegetables would keep their shapes while intensifying the aromas. It is served after a rest, usually cold, with a freshening touch of a lemon juice.
This plate reflects all the beautiful aspects of Aegean style cooking. Artichoke is a loved veggie in the region and mixing it with a fresh salad of purslane creates a great balance!
4 Artichoke Hearts
2 Onions (Fine Julienne)
1 Lemon & Orange (Zest and Juice)
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Allspice
1 tbsp Dill (Finely chopped)
4 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Bunch of Purslane (Stalks removed)
1 Orange (Cubed segments)
50gr Feta Cheese (Cubed)
Juice of 1 lemon
2tbsp Olive oil
30gr Almonds (Peeled)
1tsp Red chili (Fine julienne)
1tsp Nigella seeds
50ml Olive oil
Salt to taste
1- Start by sweating the onions in the olive oil. Do not caramelize them and don’t burn the oil with high heat. Add the spices, zests and the juice. After a good mix add the whole artichoke hearts.
2- We will cook them low and slow, but we still need some liquid for some steam. Do not use an oversized pot so you will not need much water. You may add water to the half-height of artichoke according to the pot. Cook on low heat – lid-on – nearly half an hour. Check the hearts with a knife. It should be easily cut like soft butter.
3- While it is cooling let’s make the salad. It is so fast and easy. Use the delicate top leaves of the purslane. Peel the almond skins after soaking them in water. Fatty feta cheese goes great with the aromas orange and almonds.
4- Mix the salad right before serving with salt, lemon juice and olive oil to keep them firm and fresh. If you want to balance the sweetness of orange use some red chilies for heat and some nigella seeds for earthiness.
For plating first mix some chopped dill with cooked onions and put it to the base. Place the artichoke on it after saucing it with juices in the pot. Top it all with the fresh salad and enjoy it!
This beautiful dish is a great example of the vast Aegean cuisine. It always reminds me of great summer memories, enjoying it with a cold white wine on a hot day!