The recipes of our adopted country’s kitchen are rich with vegetables, olive oil, flavorings and use only small amounts of meat. You’ve heard of the Mediterranean diet? That’s it.
One simple, but bursting-with-flavor meal is ‘menemen’ (pronounced something like ‘many men!’). I sometimes joke with my classes that menemen is my favorite Turkish food – a joke they understand once I write ‘many men’ on the board. It is similar to scrambled eggs but full of veggies and more flavorful. It is usually eaten for breakfast but it is hearty enough for another meal and is good for a hot summer day since its preparation doesn’t heat up the kitchen too much. The recipe can be adapted; feel free to use less or leave out the onions or add sliced olives. If you don’t have pepper paste, no problem! You could also add crumbled bacon or pieces of ham, although that would be ‘haram’ (forbidden) in a Muslim country.
Years ago, some friends of mine were hosting a lunch party and they asked me to come by to help with the preparation of menemen for about 15 people. I remember dicing masses of tomatoes and then breaking 50 eggs! Before the guests came, I had to leave for work, so never tasted the finished product but I heard it was good.
This recipe also brings back memories of a language lesson, where my teacher made this with me and helped me write down the vocabulary used in cooking. “Chop.” “Add.” “Stir.” It is also this friend’s recipe that I continue to use today.
This morning, I made it for our breakfast and snapped some photos. May you be inspired to try something new yourself!
Menemen(Middle Eastern Scrambled Egg and Vegetable Dish)
¼ c. olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
1 T. tomato paste
1 T. pepper paste (found in Mediterranean groceries)
1 tsp paprika
Sauté onions, tomatoes, and green peppers in olive oil for a few minutes until soft. Add tomato and pepper pastes. Saute a bit longer. Meanwhile, whisk together egg, paprika, and salt/pepper to taste. Pour mixture over the vegetables. Stir and cook until set. Serve with lots of bread. Serves 4
Note: This can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
*Editor’s note: we tested this recipe here in our American kitchen and found it to be very tasty! It’s our new favorite way to eat eggs. Hot, fresh bread makes it even better. It’s possible to purchase pepper paste in international grocery stores and it makes a great flavoring for lentil soup as well! The only significant change we make is reducing the amount of onion to one ☺.
You can find this delicious international recipe and many others in RMM’s cookbook, The World at your Table, compiled by Susannah Fath Cotman. To purchase, order online at cookbook.rmmweb.org or pick up a copy the RMM offices or at the Rosedale International Center.
*Name changed for security reasons