In Turkish cuisine, there is a series of dishes cooked specifically with olive oil, called “zeytinyağlı yemekler” (in English: dishes with olive oil). These dishes are vegetarian and are mostly eaten cold, some of them can also fall into the category of “mezzes”. I say that they are “mostly” eaten cold because even a little asking around friends brought various answers, some people prefer to eat them warm or even hot. I personally prefer eating them cold. What I mean by this is not almost frozen. It means that I let those dishes cool down to at least room temperature before eating – but I actually love them even more when they stay in refrigerator for a while.
On the other hand, in some parts of Turkey, particularly in the west (but maybe in other regions too, I just haven’t heard personally), people use olive oil for all the dishes so I guess dishes like this one does not have a huge difference with the rest. It is actually the same for me: I use only olive oil for cooking. However, most certainly, if it is a dish that involves meat, it’s essential to eat it fresh / warm!
This leek dish is one of those dishes cooked with olive oil and is generally eaten cold (unless preferred otherwise). You may or may not use onions, since leek itself is related to onion, but I personally prefer adding a bit of onion to give extra taste.
We always add a little bit of sugar in these types of olive oil dishes. The quick little search I made showed that the reason for this is olive oil with high acidity giving a bitter taste to the dish; hence, in order to make it less bitter and tastier, you add a little sugar. In one of the forums, I saw that someone said if the acidity of the olive oil you are using is low then you do not need to add sugar, but personally I have yet to acquire more info on this topic. If you know more about this, please write in the comments section!
Difficulty: ★☆☆ (Easy)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 carrots, chopped
1 large leek, chopped (not only white parts, but most of green parts too)
2 tbsp rice, washed well
1 tsp granulated white sugar
salt to taste
1. In a medium pot (mine is 3 lt), put olive oil on medium heat for about a minute. Add onions and sauté until onions are translucent.
2. Add garlic and sauté for about one more minute.
3. Add tomato paste and continue stirring for half a minute.
4. Add carrots and leek and give it a stir.
5. Add rice and sugar. Add also 1 cup (2.5 dl) of warm water. Stir a little, cover the pot with the lid, and let it boil. Once boiled, turn the heat to low and continue cooking. If the dish is getting too dry before the vegetables and rice are cooked, you can add more water. Just do that gradually and do not add too much water all at once – half a cup each time – at most – is fine. I personally do not like this dish with too much liquid, because then it feels sort of like a soup and also most of the taste goes to the liquid. I add enough water just to cook the vegetables moist enough and to cook the rice while keeping them all from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
6. When the vegetables are cooked, add enough salt to taste, stir well and cook for about 2 more minutes. After that, turn the heat off and let the dish rest with the lid on, cooling down to room temperature. You have a few options at this point: you can eat it warm, at room temperature or colder. Enjoy your new recipe!