Turkey: Mediterranean Vegetable Stew

Posted by on Sep 15, 2014 in Recipes | 1 comment

Good morning! Today as our VeganMoFo around the world culinary tour continues, we travel to Turkey.

There is some debate about whether Turkey is part of Asia or part of Europe, and as Turks would note, it straddles both. In Istanbul there is actually an Asian side and a European side. Today it is our entry point into Europe, where we’ll explore the cuisine of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Turkish Flag

Turkish Flag

What can I say about Turkey? I think it was the first country I visited where I felt the weight of history.

Gorgeous!

Gorgeous!

On my first trip to there I went Antalya. One evening went to see a symphony orchestra perform in at the Aspendos Amphitheatre, just outside of the city, which is thousands of years old and the best-preserve amphitheatre of antiquity. It was stunningly beautiful, sounded amazing, and it hit me that people had been enjoying music and theater in that space for an astoundingly long time.

Symphony orchestra at the Aspendos Ampitheatre

Symphony orchestra at the Aspendos Ampitheatre

It was also in Antalya that I discovered I had developed an allergy to peaches. My first couple of days there I ate a delightfully fuzzy and beautifully sweet peach every morning, followed about half an hour later by really annoying itchiness. It took me a while to piece together the fact that the itchiness was in fact hives and the cause was those damned, gorgeous peaches. It breaks my heart to this day that I can’t eat them, or other the other fruit and nuts I subsequently developed allergies to.

At the port in Antalya

At the port in Antalya

Antalya is a lovely little city: gorgeous coastlines, rugged cliffs overlooking, amazingly deep, blue seas.

Cliffs of Antalya

Cliffs of Antalya

Water falling into the Mediterranean

Water falling into the Mediterranean

I enjoyed every minute of it and found it incredibly relaxing and affirming. But I was lucky to be there off-season, and so I imagine it’s not quite so peaceful when it is over run by tourists.

On the coast of Antalya

Old fort on the coast of Antalya

On the streets of Antalya's Medina

On the streets of Antalya’s Medina

I adore Istanbul. It feels magical to fly into the city and see the silhouettes of mosques dotting the skyline, particularly at dawn or dusk.

The Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque

When I’m there I feel like I am walking around in a museum.

On the streets of Istanbul

On the streets of Istanbul

The blue mosque, which dominates the skyline in the Asian part of the city, is absolutely stunning. 

The Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque

Both the architecture and wall-to-ceiling decorations are gorgeous. It feels like a treasure, and it is.

Inside the Blue Mosque

Inside the Blue Mosque

Ceiling of the Blue Mosque

Ceiling of the Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque

The Hagia Sofia, which sits across from the Blue Mosque, is an amazing mix of Moorish architecture with Catholic art.

The Hagia Sofia

Hagia Sofia

Hagia Sofia

Hagia Sofia

It is really beautiful.

Inside the Hagia Sofia

Inside Hagia Sofia

Inside Hagia Sofia

Inside Hagia Sofia

Another must-see is the Basilica Cistern, part of a beautiful, almost haunting, underground water system. Some of the columns have been decorated, a couple with the head of Medusa.

Medusa in the Basilica Cistern

Medusa in the Basilica Cistern

Medusa

Medusa

I love to just walk and walk and walk in that city. It feels like around every corner there is something new to marvel at.

Beautiful

Beautiful

Oh, and the food! Hummus, stuffed grape leaves, the endless array of salads with fresh and cooked vegetables! What joy! I can never get enough of the eggplant or the beans or the nuts. And do I need to opine about the joys of Turkish delight (most of which is vegan)? I think not.

Turkish Coffee (this almost makes me miss drinking it...)

Turkish Coffee (this almost makes me miss drinking it…)

Today I’m bringing you a recipe for a Turkish stew that I enjoyed again and again in Istanbul. It was always served in a sizzling cast-iron pot overloaded with vegetables and white beans, with a rich tomato-based sauce.

Mediterranean vegetable stew

Mediterranean vegetable stew

I have tried again and again to recreate it from memory and I’m not quite sure that my version is quite as good, but it’s pretty close. The best thing about it is that you can use pretty much any vegetables you have on hand. 

Mediterranean Vegetable Stew
Serves 4
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Total Time
40 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 small or 1 medium eggplant, chopped into bite-size pieces
  2. 3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  3. 2 large tomatoes
  4. 1 sunburst squash, chopped into bite-size pieces
  5. ½ - 1 zucchini
  6. ½ onion, diced
  7. 1 carrot, roughly sliced
  8. 1 small head of broccoli or romanesco cauliflower, chopped into bite-size pieces
  9. 10-12 brussel sprouts, halved
  10. 1 bell pepper (I used yellow)
  11. 1 can of cannellini beans, drained and well rinsed
  12. 2 cups kale, chopped (I used Tuscan kale)
  13. 2 bay leaves
  14. 1 tbsp thyme, chopped
  15. ½ tbsp sage leaves, chopped
  16. 3 tbsps tomato paste
  17. Grapeseed oil
  18. Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Place your eggplant in a medium bowl with ¼ teaspoon of salt and mix to make sure the salt evenly covers the eggplant. Set aside for at least 20 minutes while you prepare your other vegetables to draw out some of the bitterness.
  2. Set your oven to broil.
  3. In a cast-iron pan, dutch oven, or other oven-proof pan, place a little grapeseed oil and heat on medium-high.
  4. When hot add the eggplant and sauté until it just starts to brown. Add onion, garlic, tomato, bay leaves, thyme and sage and continue to cook until the tomato begins to breakdown to form a sauce.
  5. Add brussel sprouts, carrots and broccoli, and cook for another couple of minutes.
  6. Finally, add the squash and bell pepper and cook for another minute.
  7. Stir in beans and tomato paste.
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Carefully place in the oven, uncovered, and let broil for about ten minutes until it is sizzling.
  10. Remove from oven and fish out bay leaves.
  11. Stir in kale and serve.
Vegan Sweet and Simple http://vegansweetandsimple.com/
 When you take it out of the oven the vegetables should be nice and cooked, but firm, with a bite too them. You really don’t want to overcook this!

Yum!

Yum!

Beautiful no?

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One Comment

  1. oh wow, i am just loving your theme and your posts and your pictures and your recipes SO much!! I’ve never been to Turkey, but I know many people who have, and they all rave about it. Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous, and that stew sounds incredible. Also, Turkish Delight is so good!

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