Last week we had a look at some cool and icy desserts to sweeten our palates and satisfy the whole household. But it can’t always be sweet, right? So this week, we have a list of ideas for those craving something a bit saltier and more savory. Here is a simple selection of appetizers and snacks that are easy to whip up when the you are feeling snacky but it is just too hot to make anything hot.
You might wonder how watermelon, a juicy fruit usually served as dessert, can be an appetizer. A Turkish tradition that might take you by surprise is pairing chunks of sweet watermelon with salty feta cheese – see if that will change your mind. The first time I heard of this, I was briefly disgusted by the idea, despite liking both foods individually. I soon found out that the refreshing watermelon gives the cheese an interesting taste that makes it a mouthwatering summer snack. One bite of watermelon followed by some feta cheese, and before you know it, you might find yourself having finished up a whole block of cheese by yourself.
Cacık, tzatziki, or whatever else you want to call this yogurt dish, is definitely the ultimate dip for the summer months because it is packed with refreshing ingredients. A few weeks back, we had shared cacık as an option to get kids to eat (and love) more vegetables. Here's the recipe:
If you do not like cucumber skins, peel the cukes beforehand and then grate them thinly. If you do not have a grater, you can just chop the cucumber very finely. After crushing or finely chopping the garlic and dill, add them to the cucumbers. Finally, add the yogurt to the mixture and top it off with some seasoning. Mix until completely blended. You can serve this in a bowl with a dash of olive oil for a dose of healthy fats and extra flavor.
Depending on how thick your yogurt is, you can add a tad of water to make it more liquidy. Just make sure to mix the water with the yogurt before you add the other ingredients.
And as usual, you can skip the garlic if you don’t like it or can't stand the smell.
Deliciously cold gazpacho
As much as a hot soup is great to warm you up in the cold winter months, a cold soup in the summer will both refresh you and banish your hunger. A great way to go about this is to go the gazpacho way and do as our fellow Mediterranean friends in Spain do. As an added bonus, this recipe doesn't involve the stove at all (which I appreciate a lot!).
Peel your tomatoes, onions and garlic cloves, and decore and deseed your peppers. Cut up the cucumbers and all the previously mentioned vegetables so that all can fit in a blender or food processor. Finally, add in the bread and blend it all together until well incorporated. After it starts to smooth out, add the seasoning, vinegar and olive oil and continue blending. Pour the soup into a bowl of your choice, and let it chill in the fridge. Once it has completely cooled – meaning it is no longer at room temperature – serve. Buen provecho!
You do not actually need to add bread to this. It will help make the soup thicker, but if you do not want to add it or you would like to dilute the taste, you can skip it.
If you do not want any chunks whatsoever in the soup, you can run this whole mix through a sieve.
This might sound like a no-brainer as well, but it is such a great thing to whip up for a light dinner or a midday snack.
All you need is a loaf or slices of bread of your choice and some light cream cheese. I prefer using labneh for this, which is definitely not as thick as the cream cheese variety consumed in the U.S. Labneh is basically a soft cheese made from strained yogurt, so if you like you could use thick yogurt (look for süzme yoğurt in Turkish markets) as well. To give this recipe a bit more pep, sprinkle some dill over the yogurt before adding the slices of cucumber. Sandwich your bread slices together and enjoy. And a tip: the fresher you eat this, the better.
You can’t go wrong with a salad, to be perfectly honest – just combine a whole bunch of greens, fruits and vegetables together and voila! While I usually love my tomatoes, I like to focus on the star of the summer when the mercury keeps on climbing: cucumber. This recipe is merely a suggestion, so feel free to add or remove as much or as little as you want.
Cut the cucumbers to the thickness you desire. I like to halve them and then cut them in varying thicknesses just to get different textures. Wash your lettuce well and cut it into thin ribbons, or as small as possible. The dill should get the same treatment. As for the radishes, just cut them into thin slices after a good wash. Prepare the dressing in a separate bowl and then drizzle it on top of all of the veggies combined in a large bowl. Give the whole salad a toss and a stir and put it into the fridge, leaving it to rest for at least 30 minutes. Now it is time for the taste test. The flavor will have changed a bit so this is where you can add a bit more salt or vinegar to suit your liking.
I am a sucker for some classic "nar ekşisi" (pomegranate molasses) and I like to add it to almost every salad I make, so I would use it here as well.
Don’t forget other fresh veggies you have growing locally in your region. Adding some corn or crunchy red peppers will sweeten the salad slightly and give it a bit more color, if you so desire.