From gözleme to pekmez: Yotam Ottolenghi’s Turkish-inspired recipes (2024)

With Thanksgiving and Christmas both on the horizon, I should really be suggesting recipes for turkey. But it’s the country, not the bird, that has my heart year-round and that inspires the food I often want to eat. The turkey recipes will come soon enough, I promise, but for now I’m all about Turkey. With its focus on lentils and feta, warm spices and tomato, molasses and tahini, slow-cooked vegetables and stuffed pastries, these are recipes that are for autumn life, and not just the run-up to Christmas.

Confit celeriac with orange and dill (pictured above)

This dish is inspired by the Turkish method of cooking vegetables gently in olive oil until they’re very soft. It’s usually served as part of a cold or warm meze spread, but to turn it into a more substantial meal, fill a pitta with some celeriac slices and feta, then sprinkle coriander seeds on top.

Prep 15 min
Cook 1 hr 45 min
Rest 30 min
Serves 4 as a main or 6 as a side

2 large oranges, 5 thin strips of peel shaved off, then juiced to get 250ml
2 lemons, 3 thin strips of peel shaved off, then juiced to get 50ml
170ml olive oil
1 tsp demerara sugar
9 garlic cloves
, peeled
1kg celeriac, trimmed and cut into 8 skin-on wedges
20g bunch dill, leaves picked and roughly chopped
½ red chilli (10g), thinly sliced
Salt and black pepper
1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed and toasted, to serve

To serve as a main course
200g feta, crumbled
6 warm pitas

Heat the oven to 190C (170C fan)/375F/gas 5. Put the first eight ingredients (including both the citrus peel and juices) in a 20cm x 30cm roasting tin with two teaspoons of salt and a good grind of pepper, toss to coat, then arrange the celeriac wedges flesh side down on the tray. Spoon the tray juices over the top, cover with foil, and bake for an hour and 30 minutes, basting and turning the wedges every half-hour – the celeriac is ready when a butter knife goes easily through the thickest part. Take out of the oven, lift off the foil and leave to cool for 30 minutes.

Stir half the dill and half the chilli into the celeriac pan, then sprinkle the rest on top with a third of the coriander seeds. Serve warm or cold with the remaining coriander seeds and the feta and pita, if using, on the side.

Lentil, spinach and feta gözlemes with grated tomato salsa

From gözleme to pekmez: Yotam Ottolenghi’s Turkish-inspired recipes (1)

Gözleme is a Turkish staple – a popular street food of stuffed flatbread that’s usually filled with minced lamb or leafy vegetables and herbs. This lentil stuffing is untraditional, but it lends itself well to the buttery, flaky dough. To make this dish vegan, simply go for olive oil instead of butter and omit the feta.

Prep 20 min
Rest 1 hr
Cook 1 hr 30 min
Serves 4

For the dough
450g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
Salt and black pepper
200g unsalted butter, melted

For the filling
3 tbsp olive oil
2 onions
, peeled and finely chopped (240g)
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely crushed
1 red chilli, finely chopped, seeds and all
2 tbsp pine nuts
¾ tsp cumin seeds
2½ tbsp tomato paste
½ tsp ground turmeric
250g ready-cooked puy lentils
150g baby spinach leaves
120g feta
, crumbled

For the grated tomato salsa
400g plum tomatoes, roughly grated and skins discarded (260g net)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely crushed
1½ tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil

First, make the dough. Put the flour in a large bowl with three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt, mix to combine, then make a well in the centre. Tip in 260ml boiling water and 50g of the melted butter, and mix until you have a sticky dough. Tip out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead for five minutes, until smooth and elastic. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Put the oil in a medium saute pan on a medium-high heat and, once hot, add the onions and saute, stirring regularly, for 20 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic, chilli, pine nuts, cumin, tomato paste and turmeric, cook for another five minutes, until fragrant, then stir in the lentils, spinach, a teaspoon and a half of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently so the lentils get slightly smashed, until the spinach has wilted, then take off the heat and leave to cool. Once the mix has cooled to room temperature, stir in the crumbled feta and divide the filling mix into eight equal 80-85g portions.

Once the dough has rested, divide it into eight roughly 90g pieces and roll into balls. Liberally dust a work surface with flour, then use a well-dusted rolling pin to roll out one ball into a 1mm-thick, roughly 30cm x 28cm rectangle . Brush generously with some of the remaining butter, then, with one of the longer sides facing you, fold over the two shorter ends to meet in the middle and brush with more butter. Spoon one of the filling portions into the centre of the dough, then spread out into a roughly 10cm-wide square, taking care you don’t spread it out so much that it reaches the edges. Fold over the two opposite ends of the dough rectangle to encase the filling, making sure it is completely covered, then firmly press together the edges to seal – you should be left with a 18cm x 12cm stuffed rectangle. Carefully transfer the gözleme to a tray, cover with a tea towel and repeat with the remaining dough, filling and melted butter.

Mix the salsa ingredients in a small bowl with a quarter-teaspoon of salt.

Turn on the oven to low to warm up, so you can keep the cooked gözlemes hot. Set a large frying pan on a medium-low heat. Brush the top of a dough parcel with more melted butter and lay buttered side down in the pan (depending on the size of your pan, you may be able to fry them in batches of two or three at a time). Brush the top with more butter, leave to cook for three minutes, until golden and crisp underneath, then carefully flip over and cook for three minutes on the other side. Transfer to a tray in the oven to keep warm, and repeat with the remaining gözleme.

Arrange the hot gözlemes on a platter and serve with the salsa on the side.

Tahini and mulberry pekmez toasts with cream cheese and sesame seeds

From gözleme to pekmez: Yotam Ottolenghi’s Turkish-inspired recipes (2)

Turkey is famous for its pekmez, a molasses-like reduced pure fruit juice that’s widely available in Middle Eastern food stores. This recipe makes more pekmez spread than is needed here, so keep the excess in the fridge for spooning over yoghurt or ice-cream; it’ll last for up to two weeks. If you can’t find mulberry pekmez, use date syrup instead.

Prep 15 min
Cook 20 min
Serves 4 as a snack

4 x 1½cm-thick slices sourdough
3 tbsp olive oil
150ml mulberry pekmez
(AKA mulberry molasses, or date syrup)
100ml tahini
2 tbsp white sesame seeds
, toasted and lightly crushed in a mortar
1 tbsp black sesame seeds, toasted and lightly crushed in a mortar
½ tsp flaked salt
200g cream cheese

Put the sourdough on a large oven tray and brush generously on both sides with olive oil. Toast the bread in a dry frying pan (or in the oven) on medium-high heat for a total of five to six minutes, turning once halfway, until golden and crisp on both sides. Keep the toast warm until you are ready to assemble the dish.

Mix the molasses and tahini in a small bowl until smooth, then set aside. In a second small bowl, combine the sesame seeds and flaked salt.

To assemble, spread the cream cheese evenly and thickly over one side of each toast. Drizzle or spoon over a tablespoon of the molasses-tahini mix and sprinkle a teaspoon of the sesame seed mix on top. Serve with the bowls of the remaining pekmez spread and sesame mix on the side.

From gözleme to pekmez: Yotam Ottolenghi’s Turkish-inspired recipes (2024)

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