It’s been a long winter in Fethiye, but the heat of the sun is finally starting to show signs of victory over the colder temperatures and with that comes thoughts of lighter meals. It’s out with the heavy stews and casseroles and in with the meze and salad dishes. Granted, we’re a long way from intense summer heat but we’re already enjoying the green shoots of spring and the fridge is packed with fresh salad goods bought from Fethiye market.
But, the main ingredient of this salad – a salad that was completely new to us – was completely free of charge as the leaves were picked from the side of the road in Kayaköy. You may remember we were in Kayaköy for Turkish village breakfast a couple of weeks back. It was certainly a day of learning where the cuisine of Turkey is concerned; two new uses for tahin in tahinli böreği and the mixing together of tahin and pekmez to make a tasty dip. If that wasn’t enough to keep us going, we were then presented with this bouquet of greenery from a friend…
Having no idea what we’d just been given, instructions of what to do with our little gift followed. Our bouquet of thick-stemmed, green leaves is turp otu (wild radish leaves, to the English speakers amongst us) and we were to make turp otu salatsı from them. We went home that afternoon with our leaves packaged in newspaper – and the day after, instructions memorised, I set about making a Turkish salad we had neither heard of before, seen before nor tasted before.
A Turkish Recipe for Turp Otu Salatası
- First of all, the leaves must be thoroughly washed and the older, bedraggled ones discarded. I also discarded the flowered parts.
- With the stems, the thicker, lower sections can be discarded. We’re looking for the fresh shoots for this salad.
- Start to boil a pan of water and meanwhile, roughly chop the leaves and chop the stems at around 2-inch intervals.
- Once the water is boiling, plunge the leaves into the water and leave to blanch for only a few minutes.
- Remove the leaves and allow to cool.
- Note: The bottom left and right photos are not part of this salad but the leaves had turned the water a green colour and there was already a hint of flavour to it. We had some chicken bones in the fridge so I took the opportunity to make some tasty stock!
For the Dressing
We were told that the classic dressing for turp otu salatası is garlic, olive oil and lemon (see our meze of broccoli recipe for this dressing) or we could substitute the lemon for nar ekşisi. Well, we decided not to substitute anything. We made a dressing with both lemon and nar ekşisi.
There are no set amounts for this dressing. It’s a case of dipping your finger in and tasting as you go along. Of course, amounts also depend on how much salad you have – but…Roughly:
- Squeeze the juice of a whole lemon and add olive oil. Work on a rough ratio of 4:1 oil to lemon.
- Now drizzle in some nar ekşisi and stir rigorously.
- Grate 2 or 3 cloves of garlic into the dressing and add salt.
- Give your dressing another good mix and taste. We love the tang of the lemon and nar ekşisi so we added a bit more. Some people prefer oodles of olive oil. You decide.
You can also eat the stems of turp otu, raw. We tried a bit while we were still in Kayaköy and it tastes very similar to chives. To eat the raw stems, start at the bottom and peel away the outer layer (it comes away really easily) to reveal fresh, crispy inner stem. Eat this inner stem.