January 4, 2010

Vegetarian Turkey

I toured Turkey two years ago and I’ve been in love with its cuisine ever since. Being largely a land of kebap (aka MEAT) dishes, however, many of the most traditional recipes are not very veg-friendly. Sad face. Enter Cooking Light’s October 2009 issue, complete with a feature on “Everyday vegetarian Mediterranean main dishes.” Happy face!


Last week, I finally got around to trying their recipe for Turkish Carrots and Lentils. I made a few of my own tweaks (because honestly, what kind of food blogger would I be if I could actually follow a recipe?) and topped my serving with a few mezzes, courtesy of the Mezzetta samples sent to me by the lovely Brita Rosenheim.


Those jalapeno stuffed olives pack a whollop, beware! I kinda love them, though. They’ve got a kick, but pleasantly so. And the artichoke hearts are marinated in a delicious dressing. All very complimentary to my lentils! Add a few kalamata olives for diversity and we’ve got ourselves a right fine meal.


Turkish Carrots and Lentils
(adapted from October 2009’s Cooking Light magazine)


  • 1/2 cup uncooked dried green lentils
  • 1.5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • 1/2 lb frozen chopped spinach
  • 1/2 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 lb carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 1.5 cups; baby carrots work too)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, divided


  1. Combine 1.5 cups water and lentils in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and spinach; cook until thoroughly defrosted, about 10 minutes or to the point where you are sauteeing.
  3. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and pepper; cook 30 seconds. Stir in carrots and 1/4 tsp salt; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  4. When lentils are tender, uncover, increase heat to medium-high and stir in onion-spinach mixture; cook 2 minutes or until any remaining liquid is nearly evaporated.
  5. Stir in remaining 1/4 tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve as is or cover with a kitchen towel and cool to room temperature.*

*Cooking Light recommends garnishing each serving with a dollop of Greek yogurt and fresh dill sprigs. As I mentioned above, I chose to garnish with mezzes/antipasti of olives and artichokes. I’m sure the yogurt would be nice too, though!

Serves 2


This recipe is a great example of the best that Turkish cuisine has to offer: healthy fats, legumes, a variety of vegetables and flavor up the hoo-hah. Hearty and filling, too!


Have you ever tried Turkish food?


Shannon said...

hmm, turkish food? maybe? i don't know if i've tried anything particularly "turkish". but mediterranean, sure :)

emily said...

I'm sorry, did you just say flavor up the hoo-ha? Because I might have a girl crush on you now.

Olga @ Healthing It said...

This recipe looks delicious!

There's a great Turkish restaurant next to my house and I go there a lot. It's always good, the food's always rich and satisfying...plus, the waiters are beautiful :)

Diana @ frontyardfoodie said...

My friend and I decided that tofurkey should be used as a curse word a few years ago.

That looks AMAZING!

Anonymous said...

i was supposed to study abroad in ankara for a semester! unfortunately i couldn't go b/c i had to leave school to recover from my ED, but i really really want to visit turkey someday! yum lentils, amazing!

Anonymous said...

girl ive never even HEARD of turkish food! it looks so good tho!! cookin light sounds like a GREAT cook book

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) said...

turkish food is not something i bump into that frequently out here. When i lived in downtown chicago, yes. Or of course you in NYC, but no so much in the desert :) But you did an amazing job on it. I LOVE how you can cook ethnically in your own kitch...just like, oh, ok tonite i am making turkish food. Awesome!!!

Gena said...

Haha. It would make my Greek Papou turn in his grave to hear it, but yes, I love Turkish food! Our enemies get certain things right ;-)

Lovely dish!

katherine said...

mmmm i think turkey might have to be my next vacation destination. since The Huz's dad is lebanese, we enjoy tons of middle eastern/mediterranean-inspired foods and this recipe looks right up my alley!

NOELLE said...

Nice recipe! I love lentils and your idea of adding olives and artichokes.

chrystad72 said...

Looks awesome! I haven't had tons of Turkish food but this look amazing. I love lentils. I bet those jalapeno stuffed olives would be great on it too. I love a big spicy kick to my food so Id be loading those babies on! Thanks for this fabulous recipe!

Marissa said...

Mmmm now I am craving those olives! I am a huge fan of Middle Eastern/Mediterranean food. On NYE we had Lebanese food that was to die for! Best Baba Kanouj I have ever had. Their Mezza platter was enough to feed 3 people without entrees. Love it! Now must find these olives ;-)

Rose said...

I've made this dish several times, and it never gets old. Love it!

Fayinagirl (means Free One) said...

Love, love, love Turkish food! Might even get my lentil-hater (ds20) to eat these! =)

Hollafoodzone said...

I LOVE Turkish food - what little of it I've tried. This looks great!