Turkish Recipes: Spinach Stem Salad

Let’s keep things simple: Most traditional Turkish food is as food should be – you take your ingredients, you make your dish…and if there is anything you have discarded while making your dish, you don’t discard it; you make another dish from it. Well, it makes sense. Life should be simple like that, shouldn’t it?

If we’ve got a chicken carcass, we make a stock to make a good tomato soup, red lentil soupnohutlu pilav or whatever else we can think of. The carcass is never discarded without first utilising it for culinary purposes…And when it comes to the Turkish kitchen, the same is also true of vegetable carcasses.

Spinach In Turkey

For instance, let’s take a look at spinach. The way it’s grown in Turkey, it’s not the delicate, flimsy leaves you get in the cellophane packets in British supermarkets – those airy leaves that sit aloof atop a salad. Noooo, no, no. Turkish spinach is rock hard! It means business. It’s dark green; hardy, with large, thick crunchy leaves…and it’s muddy, too. It needs a good wash so as not to be crunching grit along with your greenery. It’s got roots and hefty stems that have 10 or so sprouting leaves.

No, there’s nothing delicate about Turkish spinach. But once you’ve given it a good wash and chopped it up to make your ispankalı yumurta or your ispanaklı börek, it will convince you to like it (we were never big spinach fans until we came to Turkey)

Turkish Meze Recipes - Spinach Stem Salad

Spinach Stems

And so what do you do with the rooty bit at the bottom of your spinach – all those bits you chopped off? Well it could go into a vegetable stock, of course. And you could also make this very tasty meze with them. Remember a while back when we did a recipe using wild radish leaves; turp otu salatası? Well, it’s exactly the same as that. So full of flavour and your dark winter greens are all of a sudden, bright and sunny. Our broccoli meze recipe is also the same.

Turkish Recipe – Spinach Stem Salad

So it’s simple:

  • Bring a pan of water to the boil.
  • After washing your stems and chopping off any straggly roots, plunge them into the water for a couple of minutes or steam them for 5 minutes. (If your spinach stems are young and delicate, reduce the time.)
  • As always, we work on 1 part lemon to 3 parts olive oil. So, to make your dressing, squeeze the juice of a lemon into a bowl and add roughly 3 times as much olive oil. (You can make as much or as little dressing as you need, depending how many stems you have).
  • Now grate a clove of garlic and add that to the dressing and stir.
  • Add a pinch of salt and pepper and then drizzle the dressing over your spinach stems.

Another tasty and healthy meze that’s made from the bits you might otherwise throw away without thinking. If you’re feeling extra indulgent, we also enjoy a drizzle of nar ekşisi (pomegranate syrup) over these types of meze dishes, too.

Afiyet Olsun!

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  1. So simple, yet delicious, as in the best things in life, looks wonderful!:)

  2. For years I threw away my spinach roots – I still feel the guilt. I use mine now to make spinachy rice.

  3. They have big spinach in Australia too and I’m learning how to cook with it. 🙂 I’ve been cutting the stems off but you’ve inspired me to use them. 🙂

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