Nevşehir Vegetable Medley

 

Goreme, Cappadocia

I love spending hours at open-air food markets, seeing what is on offer and how the locals use it. In Turkey we travelled to Cappadocia,  a place known for its incredible landscape. There is nothing like it on earth. It is a semi-arid area with rock formations caused by erosion, leaving pillar-like formations. These have been tunnelled into to create houses and churches that date back hundreds of years. There are cities tunneled deep underground, “fairy chimnies” and minaret-like columns or pillars that people still live in today. This region should be on everyone’s bucket list for the history and landscape alone.

Nevşehir market

But almost as astounding was that this barren landscape produced the most amazing vegetables.

We sought out a local market, in Nevşehir, about 40km from the tourist centre of Goreme. It is not a town that tourists go to much, unless it is to catch a plane. We were obviously an unusual sight for the locals at the market as we received lots of stares, and gentle touches on our arms as we gaped at the produce on display. Some of the largest vegetables we had ever seen were on display in huge piles. The size and quantity of the vegetables were more impressive than I’d seen in any other markets, including tropical Vietnamese markets, or Mediterranean Italian markets.

 

The cabbages were bigger than my head. Mountains of shiny, purple eggplants filled the back of trucks parked in the middle of the market. Bright red tomatoes, the size of a butcher’s fist, were being put through mincers to make the ubiquitous red paste used so much in Turkish cooking. Incredibly shiny and red capsicums and chillies were piled metres high. Then there was the sheep’s milk cheese stored in a barrel made from the skin of a goat. Delicious!

 

 

We wished we had stayed in self-catering accommodation, rather than the beautiful small hotel we had chosen, so that we could take all this home to experiment with. When we returned to the hotel Pinar, the manager, was making this beautiful vegetable dish for her lunch with produce from the market. She insisted we try it as we passed by!! We just HAD to get the recipe. Like many Turkish dishes, it is the combination of very simple ingredients, cooked simply, but combined perfectly, that creates something much, much greater than its parts. This dish can be eaten by itself or served with meat, but if you do serve it as accompaniment to meat, I can guarantee it is the vegetable dish your guests will come back for.

Pinar’s Vegetable Medley

  • 2 potatoes, cut into shoestring chips
  • 1 eggplant sliced into rounds
  • 2 green capsicums, cut into chunks
  • 4 tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • Bunch of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped leaves (no stems)
  • Olive oil

Turkish garlic/yoghurt dressing. Mash 3 cloves of garlic with a little salt and then stir into ½ cup of thick natural yoghurt, add a sprinkle of dried mint if you like.

Shallow fry the potato chips in olive oil until crispy and golden. Keep them warm while you fry the eggplant slices in the same oil. Keep them warm too. Tip out most of the oil and leave just a little to sauté the tomatoes with the capsicum and garlic slices until just softened. Mix in the chopped parsley. Layer the potatoes on the bottom of a serving dish, and top with the eggplant. Then layer the tomato, capsicum, parsley mix on top. Serve either warm or hot. It is best served with the yoghurt mixture dribbled on top, with more in a bowl on the side for guests to help themselves to.

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