Zeytinyagli Pirasa – Leeks In Olive Oil

This olive oil dish can be found on the dinner tables of most Turkish homes quite frequently at all times of the year. Just like her cousins, onion and garlic, leeks have antiseptic qualities. What’s more interesting about these long, sleek, layered tubes is that during Roman times a variant of this vegetable with opium-like qualities was consumed at the end of dinner to induce sleep. Turks, people of the Ottoman land in wider terms, also serve this olive oil braised leek dish at the end of meals. I don’t know if there is any connection between the two cuisines, Ottoman and Roman (if there is such thing) so to speak, but I should note that Ottoman Sultans, starting from Mehmet II the Conqueror, held the title “Kayser” (meaning Ceasar), referring to the Ottoman rule as the heir to Eastern Roman Empire.

Despite all these meaningless bits and pieces of information thrown at you, please feel free to try the recipe below for a delicious and healthy olive oil dish:


4 cups of chopped leek, 2-3 cm-long pieces,

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2cm long pieces,

Juice of 1 lemon,

Juice of 2 oranges,

2 teaspoons of sugar,

2 level teaspoons of salt (adjust according to your liking),

2 cups of water,

1 cup of extra virgin olive oil,

1/2 cup of rice washed and drained,

1/2 cup of fresh parsley leaves, washed and drained.

Prepare all the ingredients, chop the vegetables, squeeze lemon and oranges, wash and drain the rice. Then, put all the ingredients, except for rice, into a steel pot. Cover and bring to boil on high heat. Then lower the heat, cover and simmer for at least 20-30 mins. Check one piece of carrot and leek to see if they reached the al dente stage. If so, add in the rice and cover again. Simmer for another 10 minutes, make sure the rice is cooked. Add 1/2 cup of boiling water(or more) if need be. Remove from the heat, throw in the parsley leaves, cover and let sit on the kitchen counter for overnight. Serve the next day at room temperature. Pairs nicely with white puffy sorts of bread.

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I really like this recipe. I never thought I would like cold vegetable dishes but this one and the celerac on is just lovely. I particularly like the use of copious amounts of lemon juice in Turkish cuisine.

    • I know, it sounds like too much sour stuff, but it always turns out better if you go generous when adding acidity to an olive oil dish. I also like the sumac and pomegranate extract combination in Southern parts of the country.

  2. […] leeks: Loosely based on this recipe for Zeytinyagli Pirasa (but I omitted the rice. Also I only had one carrot instead of two.) I made […]

  3. Hi Elif,

    what a great blog!!! As I am lucky enough to live in Turkey, I have access to all the great quality ingredients here and your recipies have given me some more ideas. Any chance to get a detailed recipe for Lakerda?

    • Thanks for your nice words about the blog Petra. Making lakerda is not that hard, but the cleaning part sounds a bit scary to be honest. The trick is to clean even the smallest bits of blood, organs and spinal cord from the fish. The best fish to pickle is torik I think, but palamut does fine as well. Take one torik, clean thoroughly, keep the skin on, cut into full hand-size pieces, soak in icy cold water for around half an hour, throwing in more ice cubes as you go. Remove from water, dry with paper towel. Line the bottom of a wooden or glass container with 1 cm of pickling salt. Place fish pieces vertically and quite tightly onto salt. Cover fish with more salt. Close the container with a tight lid trying to remove excess air. Put a heavy stone on top of the container and wrap around the lid with a cloth. Keep it in a cool dry place (10-15 degrees Celsius is OK) and in about 3 weeks, your lakerda will be ready. You will see oil and water leaking from the fish through the process. When serving, remove the oil on top first and remove the skin, then cut lakerda into small pieces and drizzle with the best olive oil you have in hand. Serve with dill and red onions. Finding the perfect fish and cleaning it thoroughly is the key. Let me know how you go, if you decide to try it.

  4. Thanks Elif, will let you know if I try …

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