A part of me will always be a dreamer.
Whenever I come across a stunning picture in a travel magazine, a landscape of outstanding beauty in a movie, or listen to my friends talk about far away exotic lands they visited, I am intrigued. I dream of packing my bags and crossing the miles to explore these fantastic destinations to experience their culture, meet their delightful people, enjoy shopping from their street markets to the chic boutiques, and savor the local cuisine.
With the vastness of the world and the plethora of choices, I have a feeling that my dream would remain just that—a dream.
Turkey, the center of the Ottoman Empire, the melting pot of the European and Asian cultures, is on my list of places to visit. Turkish cuisine is amazingly varied and one of the best in the world. I became a fan of Turkish food during my years of work in one of the best local oil and gas organization in Doha, amongst a majority of warm, friendly Qatari nationals. Those beautiful years were indeed my firsthand experience in the legendary Middle Eastern hospitality. With straight working hours from 6:30 am to 2:30 pm, my Qatari colleagues would order food from a close by Turkish restaurant and generously share it with everyone. That was the beginning.
Ever since, my family and I have always enjoyed Turkish food. Most weekends we dine or order food from a popular local restaurant in Doha renowned for its fantastic food, Turkey Central Restaurant. Their grills and salads are to die for. We usually enjoy their meze as a meal on its own. Our favorites are humus, tabbouleh, fattoush, olive salad, babaghanoush, muttabell, labneh with zatar, fatayer and many more. Well, if you are not familiar with meze or hors d'oeuvres, it's nothing but a selection of small dishes typically served as an appetizer at the beginning of a meal. Did you know "meze" means "taste" or "snack" and the invididual meze dishes are called "mezedhe", traditionally eaten with the fingers and scoped with a piece of khubz.
This olive salad is a very simple but delicious meze that captures the signature flavors of Turkish cuisine. You can serve it as an easy nibble at your next barbecue, or when you are entertaining friends and wish to spend more time with your guests. The nutrients in olives help to control asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, colon cancer and heart diseases. An added bonus, indeed.
If you like us, are true Turkish food lovers, you'll sure enjoy this simple dish.
Prep 10 min
1/2 cup tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4 cup firm green bell pepper, seeded, cored and diced
1/2 cup sliced pickled green olives, drained
1 tablespoon sliced pickled black olives, drained
1 tablespoon carrot, finely grated
1/2 to 1 tablespoon pickled jalapeño, finely diced & drained (optional)
handful parsley leaves, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
Tip all the ingredients into a mixing bowl, drizzle over the lemon juice and olive oil, and gently toss.
Jalapeño is not part of the authentic recipe, I use it for a bit of tingle on the tongue. Also, remember that brined olive slices are usually salty. So, taste and season, if desired.
Serve with slices of khubz (pita bread) by the side.