In April of 2022 my husband and I visited Cappadocia, Turkey. It was an incredible destination, to say the least, highlighted by a hot air balloon ride at sunrise over the unique landscape.
The food was a delight to me – vegetables, bean dips, pickles, salads, breads, fruits, desserts, and more. Oddly enough I never found Turkish eggs anywhere!
When I was searching a while back for a lamb dish I’d enjoyed on that same trip, I used a Greg Malouf recipe, then proceeded to discover that Greg and his wife, Lucy, had written a multitude of cookbooks together, including one on Turkish cuisine. After our visit, I just had to buy this, called Turquoise, published in 2008.
As the cookbook begins, Lucy tells the story of people’s reactions to them writing a book about Turkish cuisine, basically saying “Isn’t it all about eggplant?” I found that funny because that was my husband’s impression of the food in Cappadocia. Here are some food photos to prove him wrong!
The cookbook is a wonderful read, and the recipes are fantastic, sometimes modernized by the chefs, but I have no problem with that. There are ingredients in the book that are definitely unique, like grape molasses and pickled fig seeds. But basic Turkish ingredients are readily available for the most part, although I wish I could have used Turkish feta in this recipe.
This dip recipe intrigued me because of its simplicity. I love strained yogurt, and was quite impressed with how widely and creatively yogurt was used in Turkey. My favorite was a fermented yogurt soup called Tarhana, pictured in the above mosaic.
About this recipe, by the authors, “Simple to make, this dip is nice and peppery, and the walnuts give it a pleasing crunch. Serve as a spread for fresh crusty bread or smeared on croutons as an appetizer with predinner drinks.”
Soft White Cheese and Walnut Dip
2/3 cup walnuts
6 ounces feta
2 tablespoons strained yogurt (recipe below)
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Scatter the walnuts onto a baking tray and roast for 5-10 minutes until a deep golden brown. Tip the nuts into a tea towel and rub well to remove as much skin as possible.
Chop the walnuts finely and toss in a sieve to remove any remaining skin and dust.
Put all the ingredients into a large bowl and mash everything together thoroughly with a fork. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
The texture of this is interesting, and the flavors are really good.
I served it with some pita and crackers plus some other goodies.
The dip/spread is delicious. The toasted walnut flavor really shines. I imagine an authentic Turkish feta would have a stronger flavor, but the cheese was still wonderful.