Write: Mutfak Sanatları Akademisi Photos: Jacqueline Rodit
In Its 800 Different Varieties, It Is Part Of All The World’s Cuisines Today. But Squash Actually Embarked Its World Journey In The 15th Century.
It first arrived in Europe on the ships of the Portuguese explorers who discovered the New World. From there it made its way to the Far East. Thanks to its high nutritional value, it became a cornerstone of Ottoman palace as well as folk cuisine in upwards of 150 recipes.
Taking on a different guise in every cuisine, squash plays the lead role in some, a supporting role in others, appearing on the table in Turkey in the form mainly of dolma, stew or a cold olive oil dish. Combined with eggs and cheese and either fried or baked in the oven as ‘müjver’ (rissoles), it is a favorite with people of all ages. Carefully picked in the early morning, its delicate yellow-petalled flower adorns mezze platters especially in the Aegean region as ‘squash flower dolma’. Grated raw, it makes an excellent light salad. All you have to do is add yoghurt, olive oil and a mix of fresh herbs.
A high-fiber vegetable, squash is also rich in vitamins and minerals, containing vitamins A, C, D and E as well as potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, sodium and iron. This multifaceted vegetable is your body’s friend and protective hero. It cleanses the body, calms the nerves, strengthens the heart and balances the blood pressure. Thanks to its fiber content, it creates a feeling of fullness, and the phytosterol it contains fortifies the immune system.
Star of hundreds of dishes, squash is passing along its countless benefits now in a series of new and and innovative recipes. Complemented by the appropriate ingredients, it offers outstanding flavors no one can resist.
Squash au Gratin
300 g goat cheese,
1/2 bunch fresh dill,
1/4 bunch flat-leaf parsley,
30 g flour,
250 ml milk,
40 g butter,
1/2 tsp salt,
a pinch of black pepper,
70 g aged kashar cheese,
50 g bread crumbs.
Brown the flour in the butter. Add the milk and boil for 2-3 minutes to make a Béchamel sauce. Set aside; strain if necessary and cool to room temperature. Cut the squash in half, hollow out and remove the seeds. Fill with the grated goat cheese and finely chopped dill and parsley. Arrange the squash on a baking sheet and cover with the Béchamel sauce. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and bread crumbs and bake in a 180° C. oven for about 10-12 minutes until brown on top. Serve hot.
Fried Squash Flower Dolma
12 squash flowers,
60 g Bergama tulum cheese,
100 g feta cheese and 100 g string cheese,
all cheese grated, 500 g onions,
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley,
4 spring onions,
4 basil leaves,
4 sprigs fresh dill, all herbs finely chopped,
250 g flour,
50 g potato starch,
1/2 tsp salt,
2 small ice cubes,
400 ml water,
1 egg white,
4 tbsp sunflower oil,
1 liter sunflower oil for the frying.
Place the onions in 50 ml of the sunflower oil and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring constantly until they begin to color. Set aside and let cool. When cool, mix with the grated cheeses and chopped herbs. In a separate bowl, beat the flour, potato starch, salt, water and ice cubes together with the egg white to make a batter. Fill the squash flowers with the cheese mixture and close. Dip in the batter and fry in the hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels, then serve.