Thursday, November 3, 2011

Zucchini Dip

This dip would be a nice and versatile option for an appetizer for any party, especially with dry white wine.
It would also be a great companion to Raki which is Turkey's national drink.

Ingredients: (Makes about 1 cup)

  • 1 lb. zucchini (about 2), peeled and finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving/dressing
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese or Turkish "lor" cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain thick, creamy yogurt/plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced/pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pita chips / pita bread / toasted bread, for serving

  • Put the finely grated zucchini in the middle of a clean kitchen cloth; make a bundle with the cloth and squeeze out all the juices (you can also do this job with your clean hands by the handfuls).
  • Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the zucchini, dried mint and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and saute about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until zucchini gets tender and caramelized (releases its juices and absorbs them back) and dried mint gives away kind of a toasted smell. Set aside to cool.
  • In a bowl, mix walnuts, garlic, yogurt, cheese and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to combine well. Mix in the cooled zucchini.
  • Serve it on a plate drizzled generously w/ olive oil, along w/ chips or bread.

Additional points:

  • Lor is a traditional Turkish cheese, a type of unsalted, inexpensive white cheese, made from the whey left over from kasar and mihalic manufacture (which are some other types of traditional Turkish cheeses). It is used in some traditional desserts and as filling for savory pastries; it is also consumed as bread spread. If you are interested, you can find lor at or at Greek/Middle Eastern food stores. But for this recipe, you can also easily substitute it w/ ricotta cheese.
  • If you can't find or don't want to look for Greek yogurt, just put the same amount of regular plain yogurt onto a mesh strainer, place the strainer on top of a bowl. Let it sit in the fridge for a few hours; you will see that the water drips down from the strainer and collects at the bottom of the bowl, while the yogurt gets thicker (or if you do not even have that much time, just let it sit from the beginning till the end of this recipe, and add the yogurt at the end).

Shepherd's Salad (Coban Salatasi)

Shepherd's Salad is a very classic and very popular salad in Turkey, especially in summer when the vegetables used in this salad are at their peak. It's light, refreshing and easy to make, and it goes great with almost any type of meal, from a summer buffet/barbeque to a lamb roast dinner in winter...
You will find that this is a very juicy salad; the dressing does not only cover the ingredients (like most salads), it also collects at the bottom, combined with all the juices from the veggies, especially the tomatoes. And that's where the bread comes into the picture, most people love dunking their bread into that delicious juicy dressing.
Ingredients: (Serves 6)
  • 1 cup cucumber, finely chopped
  • 1 cup onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup Cubanelle pepper (or any other type of mild green pepper), seeded and thinly sliced
  • 3 cups tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1/2 heaping teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sumac (optional)
  • Put all the veggies in a bowl/serving bowl.
  • Put the olive oil, lemon juice and salt into a jar or plastic container (with a lid). Close the lid very tightly, and shake vigorously. Pour onto salad and toss.
  • Optional: Sprinkle the salad w/ dried oregano and sumac, and gently toss once more.