The Best Turkish Cold Vegetable Dishes With Olive Oil

Turkey Is A Vegetable Lover's Paradise

Did you know that Turkey is a vegetarian's paradise? Appetizers, soups, salads and main dishes made from seasonal fresh vegetables, herbs, leaves, beans, and legumes are very important in Turkish cuisine.

You can experience great Turkish regional cooking by following the seasons around the country to enjoy locally prepared dishes made with vegetables harvested from nearby fields.

Turkish people cherish their fresh vegetables dishes that are simply cooked or braised in their own juices, then doused with olive oil and served cold. In Turkish, this entire group of dishes is called 'zeytinyağlılar' (zay-TIN' yah-LUH'-lar), which means "those with olive oil".

Serving one or more of these recipes is standard with almost every meal. There's always a 'zeytinyağlı' selection ready in the refrigerator.

All 'zeytinyağlı' vegetables are cooked in a similar fashion. The vegetables are washed and cut into the desired shapes, then braised in a pressure cooker or covered saucepan with onions, seasonings and sometimes rice.

The key is to use as little extra water as possible while cooking. This will ensure the vegetables cook in their own juices and won't end up too soft or bland.

Once the vegetables are very tender and the liquid has reduced and thickened, they are left to cool down to room temperature. Before serving or storing them, the vegetables are drizzled with generous amounts of extra virgin olive oil.

This not only complements their flavor, but it also helps to keep them fresh in the refrigerator for several days.

Home cooks will often prepare the week's vegetable dishes on Sunday, and the family will eat them all through the week.

The best line-up of Turkish 'zeytinyağlı' dishes is below. Many are hearty enough to stand alone as a vegetarian meal.

You'll see many interesting vegetables that you may have never tried before. Do fava beans, artichoke bottoms or steamed samphire sound tempting?

What about leeks and carrots or roasted eggplant salad? Choose any recipe from the list below, or try them all to get a taste of authentic Turkish vegetarian cuisine.