Vegetables and Olive Oil in Turkish Cuisine

olive oil is very important in Turkish cuisine

The known history of olives, the world’s healthiest natural vegetable oil source, goes back 8 thousand years. The oldest available data on the olive tree are olive leaf fossils dating back 39,000 years. Olive oil, an essential product of the olive tree, was called “liquid gold” by humankind, while it was used only as fuel at first and later took the most crucial place in human nutrition.

Olive, which has been a source of many legends in its historical development, has taken its place in ancient civilizations’ inscriptions and holy books. The olive branch has been accepted as a symbol of peace for centuries since a white dove returned to Noah’s ark with an olive branch as a sign of vitality after the Flood.

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Stuffed wine leaves with olive oil

The olive tree grows slowly but has a very long life. The average lifespan of an olive tree is 300-400 years, but olive trees are also found at 3,000 years old. For this reason, the name of the olive tree is the “immortal tree” in mythology and botany.

While the Turks took over Anatolia from the Eastern Roman Empire, they preserved the olive oil culture of the Romans and enriched them over time beyond protection. Olive oil in Turkish cuisine is widely used with vegetables. Dishes made with olive oil and vegetables have always had a special place in Ottoman cuisine. Dishes made with olive oil became widespread from the city to the villages during the Ottoman period. Ottoman cuisine formed the basis of Turkish food culture today.

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Vegetable dishes with olive oil

In today’s Turkish cuisine, olive oil is used extensively and widely. Olive oil dishes are made primarily in the Western region. One reason for this is that olive trees grow here. The only exception to this situation is Gaziantep and its surroundings. Olive oil is produced in this region, and many olive oil dishes are eaten.

When we look at the Aegean coast, we see that the use of olive oil begins at breakfast. Olive oil, on which thyme and paprika are planted, is eaten with bread. In other regions, olives are one of the immutable foods of the breakfast table.

Although olive oil dishes are considered in the “cold starters” category in the world, this classification is not precisely correct for Turkish cuisine. Because eating olive oil at the beginning and eating a small amount does not fit our eating habits. Olive oil in Turkey is considered among the main dishes. For centuries, olive oil dishes have been preferred for a light and cool meal on hot summer days. Olive oil is consumed on the most intense Aegean coasts in our country. For this reason, it would not be wrong to say that Aegean people are experts in the use of olive oil.

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Olive Oil in Turkish Cuisine:

Celery and Olive Oil

Celery, whose production and consumption dates back centuries, has even been the subject of epics about its health benefits.

Celery is a vegetable whose roots and leaves are consumed as a whole. It has many health benefits thanks to the vitamins, minerals, and herbal foods it contains. Celery, which is recommended to be consumed in the winter, contains plenty of liquid. It is a complete store of vitamin C.

The benefits of celery, which spread worldwide, are also mentioned in the Greek epic Iliad. Celery is a vegetable widely consumed with olive oil, stuffed, boiled vegetables, salad, or soup, depending on the soil it grows. It is the information contained in the epic, where it was used as both food and medicine.

Celery also had an important place in Ottoman cuisine and is widely consumed in today’s Turkey.

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Leek and Olive Oil

This plant, which grows naturally in the Mediterranean region, has influenced the cuisines of France and Balkan countries, just like our country’s cuisine. 15th-century Ottoman sources mention many different leek dishes cooked, including one dish made with leek and eggs.

When it comes to winter vegetables, leek comes to mind first, and its benefits are unlimited. Leek with olive oil, which contains fiber and has low calories, is indispensable for diet lists.

The leek contains abundant vitamins, iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, various nitrites, and oligo-elements. The benefits are pretty high. For example, it keeps you full, softens the intestines, cleans the blood, and removes toxins from the organism.

The food of the leek, which contains different vitamins, will add flavor to your tables and will be a practical and delicious meal that you can easily feed your children with its nutritional values.

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Artichoke and Olive Oil

Artichoke is a native vegetable to the Mediterranean and the Aegean coast of Turkey. Since it is a natural source of antioxidants, it has the feature of cleansing the blood. This vegetable, also used in Italian and French dishes, strengthens the body’s defense mechanism. Therefore, it is recommended to be consumed once a week, especially in winter. In addition to cell repair, it also keeps blood levels in balance. It regulates the digestive system and facilitates calorie burning; it is frequently included in diet lists. As it is healthy and nutritious, it attracts great attention among olive oil dishes.

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Broad Beans and Olive Oil

The origin of the bean, whose homeland is Asia and Europe, goes back centuries ago. This vegetable, known for its fresh, dry, and inner broad bean varieties, is mainly grown in the Mediterranean region in our country. Besides being rich in vitamins and protein, it also affects heart health positively. Broad beans, which are used to relieve problems such as depression and insomnia, are among the foods recommended, especially for pregnant women.

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Dried Vegetables and Olive Oil

Dried eggplant and capsicum dolma in silver bain-marie tray with tongs at local restaurant, Istanbul food tour

We strongly recommend if you haven’t tried stuffing made from dried vegetables, also known as “Sour Stuffed” in Traditional Turkish Cuisine and Ottoman Palace Cuisine. It is sour-sweetened with dry sumac spice, which is frequently consumed in the eastern region of Turkey. Stuffing dried eggplant with olive oil is a practical recipe for those who will cook today and consume it tomorrow because it is both warm and cold.

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Zucchini Flower and Olive Oil

Stuffed zucchini flower is one of the indispensable flavors of Turkish, Greek, and Cyprus cuisines. Although the recipe varies according to the region, it is usually made from pumpkin or zucchini flowers collected in the Aegean and the Mediterranean early in the morning. The flowers are collected in the morning when the flowers are fully open and do not wear out due to the heat. Fruit-free flowers are selected for stuffing. It is also very beneficial for health as it contains vitamins B1 and C, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, starch, and protein minerals.

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Black Eyed Peas (Kidney beans) and Olive Oil

Kidney bean has a significant place in Ottoman cuisine culture. It is made in many different ways, including kidney bean pots, bakery dishes, appetizers in regional and local cuisines.

The kidney bean, which is among Turkey’s historical tastes, is used in salads, main courses, kebabs, and many other dishes that we cannot count yet. Kidney bean is an essential vegetable in terms of the vitamin values ​​it contains.

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Okra and Olive Oil

Okra had a vital place in the Ottoman palace cuisine, and it was absolutely served at every sultan’s table. So much so that there was bamyacibaşı (head chef for okra dishes) in the palace’s kitchen. According to sources published in the 1730s, good okra was brought in the palace kitchen for the sultan, and the remaining ones were allowed to be sold.

Okra pot dishes, bakery dishes, appetizers, and soups are made in many different ways in Ottoman cuisine and local cuisines. In traditional Turkish cuisine, okra is also an important vegetable in terms of the vitamin values ​​it contains.

Light, refreshing, and healthy meals are preferred on Turkish tables during the summer months, especially when hot. In such cases, the first thing that comes to our mind is olive oil. You can store okra in the freezer while it is fresh or dry it for the winter months.

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Jerusalem Artichoke and Olive Oil

Jerusalem artichoke is a winter vegetable that grows under the ground. Although North America is the motherland of this root, it grows in Europe and Turkey. There are high vitamins and minerals in the Jerusalem artichoke, which is also very useful for health. It has profound health benefits for people of all ages.

Since it does not contain starch, it can be consumed by diabetics and blood pressure patients without fear. Mothers who have just given birth are also healed, and mothers who breastfeed their baby should keep consuming it. It heals wounds, protects cells. It reduces the risk of developing heart diseases. It is especially recommended to consume it raw.

While the shape of Jerusalem artichoke is reminiscent of potatoes, it tastes like radish and artichoke. The skin can be peeled like a potato and eaten raw. It is possible to drink its juice. You can fry it like potatoes or boil it in saltwater and eat it. You can also chop it into your salads or grate and eat. One of Jerusalem artichoke’s most preferred cooking types is olive oil, onion, carrot, and potato. You can get a different taste by adding orange juice and lemon juice to this dish.

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Sea Beans and Olive Oil

Sea bean, whose homeland is India and South Asia, is a plant that grows on the sea’s coasts. It traps minerals in the ocean, and it is one of the herbs with high nutritional value. It is mostly used in Aegean cuisine in Turkey. The sea bean, which contains its salt and sourness in its natural structure, is easily prepared by boiling and pouring olive oil. It is especially recommended for goiter patients since it includes high iodine content. Apart from the benefits of sea bean, it is one of the favorite dishes of the Aegean in particular.

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