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Sunday, 6 September 2009

Get stuffed!

I love Turkish stuffed vegetables.  It's a good time of the year to get stuffing.  The grapes on the vine are finished, leaving an abundence of leaves to be used.

There are lots of vegetables in the market just waiting to be stuffed:  aubergines, bell peppers, courgettes and the most enormous white cabbages. Even the courgette flowers get stuffed...in fact anything that looks like it can be stuffed is fair game.

Most Turkish women have their own recipes for the stuffing mixture.  I vary mine depending on what I fancy at the time.

Mostly the main ingredient is cooked rice.  Although I often use bulgar, soaked in boiling water with a stock cube added for extra flavour.

Then it's really up to you to add whatever you think will make a tasty stuffing.   Chopped onions and tomatoes, fried in olive oil, tomato paste, allspice, crushed red pepper (chilli), chopped parsley and dill.  If you want to add meat to the stuffing then minced beef or lamb is good, or one of  my favourites...chopped chicken livers.  Meat in the mixture is particularly good for stuffed cabbage leaves, aubergines and courgettes.

Prepare your vegetables:  

Bell peppers should be thin...slice off the tops and scoop out the insides.  Save the tops to use as a lid...but another good idea is to use tomato peel as a lid.

The most suitable vine leaves are those with thin veins.  Cut out the stalk and a small "V" shape to get rid of most of the tough veins.  Bring to the boil in salted water, simmer for a few minutes and drain.

Similarly with the cabbage leaves..cut out the stalk and a V shape, blanch and drain.

Stuff the peppers and add their lids and place upright in a large saucepan.   Add about an inch of water.  Cover with a lid, bring to the boil and simmer for about half an hour, until they  are soft.

With the vine and cabbage leaves...place some stuffing in the centre...fold the sides into the centre and roll them up....Place side by side in a large pan, add a little water and simmer until cooked.

With courgettes and aubergines...slice lengthways and scoop out the flesh from the middle.  Add the stuffing mix (and I find that meat in the stuffing mix is best for these vegetables)...place in an oiled roasting dish...cover in tin foil and bake in the oven until soft.

Any of these cooked stuffed vegetables can be served hot or cold.  They are particularly enjoyable served with natural yogurt (I always add some chopped garlic to mine).

So...get stuffing!

8 comments:

  1. Our cooking is much the same here in Greece!

    I've been lurking in your blog since I discovered we both followed another blog together and I've so enjoyed your posts.

    We lived just outside of Izmir (Guzelbache and then Zeytinaltina) for about five years.

    We loved it. I have nothing but great memories of our time there (also some great stories!!)

    Hos Bulduk!

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  2. Hoşgeldiniz truestarr. Well we weren't too far from Izmir before we moved here...Selçuk. My brother has been holidaying in Corfu for almost 30 years now...he and his family are good friends with a Greek family there. He also paints and once did a painting for Gerald Durrell...many many years ago.

    Look forward to reading more of your blog...

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  3. What a great tip about using tomato as a cap for the peppers. I love doing stuffed vegetables...it's so flexible and always so colourful when it comes to table.

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  4. I agree Fly..and very economical too. They freeze quite well too. My neighbour was stuffing veg for Iftar the other day and brought me a plate of mixed ones...lovely.

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  5. This all sounds delicious shame i Have just had lunch it' making me feel hungry again!
    CKx

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  6. I know what you mean Kate. I spend an awful lot of time reading recipe books which has the same effect of course.

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  7. Oooh I absolutely love the stuffed aubergines and peppers that you get in Turkey....highlight of any holiday. I also love their rice - everything is so rich in flavour in Turkey.

    I must try and start stuffing myself, but I would love to try your stuffed veggie´s Ayak. It does sound mouth wateringly delicious and very healthy.

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  8. Amag: Oh I'm sure you can do them as well as me...go on give it a try...and yes they are very healthy and could be a good addition to your diet

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