İmam Bayıldı (Stuffed Eggplant Boats)

Recipes

İmam Bayıldı (Stuffed Eggplant Boats) post image

For months I was waiting to cook this dish again. As much as I love my winter roots or spring greens, I am passionate about the nightshades that come out in summer. Firm eggplants with shiny skins and ripe tomatoes bursting with sweetness. After all, the whole imam bayıldı business is about excellent summer produce.

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Chilled Spicy Tomato Soup (Bostana)

Recipes

Bostana, Chilled Spicy Tomato Soup by Olga Irez of Delicious Istanbul

Look at the change: just a month ago my dinner looked like a comforting stew and right now I can’t think of anything but raw. This is how I know the summer has arrived: eating raw would have been a hard sell to the winter me. Ok, the whole meal does not have to be raw, but I want all the crunch, and color, and juice of tomatoes, cucumbers and fresh herbs. Unadulterated. So I have been frequently eating shepherd salad for dinner. Until I recalled a dish my mother-in-law introduced me to a few years ago.

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Spiced Chickpea and Purslane Salad

Recipes

Spiced Chickpea and Purslane Salad by Olga Irez of Delicious Istanbul

The green of summer is different from the green of spring. In spring the green comes from the young herbs and wild plants, a welcome change from the pale colors of the winter produce. Spring greens bring bold peppery and bitter flavors to your meals refreshing your palate and helping your body cleanse after the heavy winter diet. The green of summer is nothing like that. It comes with subtle tastes and succulent bodies to cool down and hydrate you. Think green beans, or zucchini, or cucumber.

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Fava Bean Spread with Dill Pesto

Recipes

Fava Bean Spread with Dill Pesto by Olga Irez of Delicious Istanbul

I find that the simplest dishes often take me the longest to nail down. Take fava, a Turkish spread of dry broad beans. You will find it in every decent meze set in the restaurants and delis of Istanbul and along the Aegean coast. Fava is velvety, smooth and satisfying. It is so good that I can eat it every day. I mean it. I will not think twice about ordering fava at a restaurant even though I cooked it at home just the day before.

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Samphire and New Potato Salad

Recipes

Samphire and New Potato Salad by Olga Irez of Delicious Istanbul

When we traveled along the Aegean last September I could not get enough of samphire (deniz börülcesi) while my Russian mom insisted on potatoes in every meal we cooked. She parboiled them first and then pan-fried in olive oil to create a cozy crust. A few meze (with the compulsory samphire), grilled wild sea bass and the mom’s potatoes have become the dinner we cooked many times on that trip.

I don’t know why the idea of getting samphire and new potatoes to meet in a single dish did not occur to me back then. Some things take time to distill. And now I think of samphire and new potato salad as the best summer meal ever.

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My Kind of Chickpea Bread

Recipes

Chickpea Bread by Olga Irez of Delicious Istanbul

For two breakfasts I have been serving this chickpea bread to my guests. For those interested, it’s grain-free. For everybody else, it is a rather amazing creation. I have not seen anything quite like that around.

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How to Prepare and Cook Artichoke

Recipes

Steamed Artichoke with Chermoula by Olga Irez of Delicious Istanbul

Artichokes start flooding Istanbul food markets in March, and the peeled, ready-to-go-in-your-pot artichokes hearts are hard to ignore. However, my first spring in Istanbul I was watching artichokes from a respectful distance.

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