(salad sits in afternoon light, fresh and tasty)

Reading about the history of Istanbul (previously known as Constantinople, Byzantium, among other titles) has enriched our experience being here. I love to learn about Sultan after Sultan -- their pleasures, palaces and pomp -- of which there was abundance! In particular, the cuisine of the Ottoman Dynasty intrigues me . . . They praised pilavs (rice and meat dishes), a variety of nuts, jams and honeys (one English ambassador swore they crushed rubies into one jam to make it such a brilliant red!), sheep's milk cheeses from the hills, ripe fruits such as pomegranate, apples and quinces and dried fruits -- dates, apricots, cherries and raisins. They served cold vegetables (artichoke hearts, cucumbers, peppers) smothered in olive oils and served hot vegetables (brussels sprouts and kale) cooked in butter. The mother of all vegetables for the Ottomans, was the eggplant -- and it was cooked in countless ways. Coffee, according to the leading British historian, Phillip Mansel, was served in houses all over the city by 1500, 100 years before it arrived in Paris and London. At first, Grand Viziers (the Sultan's advisers) unsuccessfully tried to ban coffee -- after a short time, they became the lead investors in the liquid gold.

Things haven't changed all that much -- there are still endless coffee houses (they're never empty) and the foods served in restaurants focus on many of the same dishes as were served over 500 years ago -- eggplant, beans, pilavs, cheeses, baklava swimming in honey, etc. It's a wonderful cuisine, always accompanied by a delicious bread.

I was inspired by the local market, a meal I had with Kate at a cute cafe down our street and the Ottoman palette to create this filling and luxurious salad. I give you less of a recipe and more a list of ingredients, to add and subtract as you like and what's available.

Ottoman Salad
1 cup wheat berries -- cook 2:1 water to grain ratio (substitute rice or bulgur if you like)
1 bunch arugula
1/2 onion, cut into thin rounds
1 carrot, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 pomegranate
1 small piece of stinky cheese (gruyere, sheperd's cheese, feta -- any will do)
fresh Italian parsley

Toss salad in liberal dousing of good olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Enjoy while wearing a be-jeweled turban and silk kaftan, staring past your tulip garden into the bright blue of the Golden Horn and Sea of Marmara!


  1. this salad looks incredible---i will make this this week! miss you!