Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lightly sautéed zucchini sounded like a good idea at the time.

However, my good friend Sharon, a long-time Istanbul resident, had a better idea.

“My housekeeper used to make this. Take a few kabak, an onion, one diced potato, maybe a tablespoon of tomato paste and some pul biber if you like and cook it,” she said.

This idea of kabak yemeği (zucchini dinner or food is the best translation I can come up with) sounded much better. Many recipes start with an idea or perusal on the Internet, and then I usually improvise from there.

Once I’m in the kitchen, I start chopping, cooking and adding a bit of this and that to the pan. The end result this time is this simple, but packed full of flavor and slightly spicy side dish. I don’t know how authentic Turkish it is, but it’s my version of this recipe and it’s delicious.

Serve for dinner with a roasted chicken and a side salad. As my husband declared, “it sure does make tasty zucchini.”

Afiyet Olsun!

Kabak Yemeği (Zucchini Side Dish)


2 T. olive oil
1 medium potato, medium diced
2 medium kabak (zucchini), halved lengthwise and then sliced into ¼”-thick slices
1 white or yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
(optional: 1 long red pepper, sliced into thin strips ½” long)
3-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1-2 çay bardağı water (about ½ cup to 1 cup)
2 heaping T. domates salçası (tomato paste) I prefer  the acı version so I usually use that.
pinch pul biber (crushed red pepper flakes)
TT salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Place a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil.
2. When the oil is hot, add the potatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes. (Since the potatoes are the firmest vegetable they will take a bit longer to cook than the rest.)
3. Add the zucchini, onions, red pepper and garlic. Sautée the vegetables for several minutes until an al dente texture is achieved.
4. Add the water, tomato paste and pul biber. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes until you the sauce is slightly thickened. You can add more water as needed to thin out the sauce if you like.
5. Spoon the vegetables into a serving dish and garnish with parsley.