The Turkish cuisine has had the minor misfortune of having a carnivorous stereotype attached to it; all ripe with hot gyrating döners and kebabs. Even though meat dishes can be delicious on their own terms, the healthier side of the Turkish kitchen has been largely overlooked and hides a vast array of salubrious options.
The ubiquitous waterfront views that decorate the Istanbul experience are also the inspiration behind fresh fish served in the simplest manner. Grilled, with an accompanying lemon and leafy greens (most often arugula), fish is a variant and delicious option.
Vegetables cooked with olive oil and served cold are one of the most popular options in the Turkish kitchen and sometimes constitute as a whole meal rather than just an appetizer, especially in the warmer months. Cold vegetable dishes make use of bakla (horse bean), pırasa (leek), yer elması (sunchoke), barbunya (kidney bean), kereviz (celery), and enginar (artichoke).
Other vegetables are cooked and served hot, sometimes accompanied by yoghurt. The best way to cook these vegetables is in a pressure cooker to make sure that the vitamins and minerals of the vegetable are not lost. The four most common dishes in this category are kurufasulye (white beans), taze fasulye (string beans), bezelye (peas) semizotu (purslane), and ıspanak (spinach), kabak kalyesi (squash cooked with tomatoes, onions and dill).
Yoghurt sometimes appears as a kind of universal sauce for a lot of dishes, whether meat or vegetable. However yoghurt is also served as a drink, appropriate with a bit of salt and served cold in the summer months (ayran).
Bulgur and Lentils
Bulgur (cracked wheat) is healthy alternative to rice and can be complemented with various vegetables such as lentil or spinach to make an all around delicious meal. Lentils are a big part of Turkish cooking displayed in various forms from mercimek çorbası (red lentil soup) or mercimek yemeği (green lentil soup) to mercimek köftesi (lentil balls).