The World on a Vegan Plate – Turkey

This month we’re traveling to Turkey for a mediterranean meze, a Casbah inspired cocktail & a daring prison escape!

Last year when we were planning our visit Turkey, I was less concerned with the political unrest & more concerned about what I could eat. I was a new vegan & was a little nervous that I wouldn’t find a lot of food options. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised!  Turns out that Turkey is infamous for offering a meze at most restaurants. If you’re not familiar with the term “meze”, it basically means several small dishes served as a light meal. I loved being able to mix & match a variety of veg, legumes, rices & breads and every meal became an adventure in tastes.

Turkish Spice Market
Turkish Olive Bar

Once I returned home, I started using the word “meze” anytime I needed to clean out the fridge! It’s a great idea for getting rid of leftovers or when you just want to throw something on the table quick. If you’re having a group over, just add more dishes. You can literally customize this meal any way you want. I always make my Super Easy Vegan Yellow Rice as kind of an anchor dish & then put out whatever I have on hand. If you’re lucky enough to have a great olive bar at your local supermarket then most of your work is done. The Super Easy Vegan Yellow Rice recipe is below.

Start by getting all your ingredients together.

Using a medium saucepan, melt the butter & then add the rice. Long grain white rice works best for this recipe. Sauté the rice until lightly browned.

Add the garlic, onion powder & turmeric and stir until well mixed.

Slowly add the vegetable broth & bring to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer, cover & cook for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat & stir in chopped fresh parsley.

Put all your meze in small bowls & arrange on a tray. Serve with a Casbah inspired cocktail (basically a cosmo with some tangerine juice & a spray of ouzo) or a beer. I couldn’t find a Turkish beer so I bought one from Lebanon, which was pretty good (who knew?!)

Tonight’s meze was (from left to right): giant beans in vinaigrette, shelled pistachios, roasted tomatoes, artichoke hearts, Super Easy Vegan Yellow Rice, crispy crackers, pita chips, Tofurkey sausage, quick-pickled red onions, olives & left-over tofu feta.


After a lovely dinner on the patio, we turned on our movie. Once again, our first choice wasn’t available so we settled on Midnight Express. It had been years (decades!) since I’ve seen this movie & I couldn’t really remember the whole thing. I DO remember the premise & have always cautioned my son whenever he leaves the country to “not end up like the guy in Midnight Express!” (he never knew what I was talking about & just thought I was nuts).

If you’ve never seen it, Midnight Express is based on the true story of a young American who, in 1970, is caught by the Turkish police while attempting to smuggle hash out of Istanbul. He’s tried & sent to prison for 4 years, where he endures horrible physical & mental abuse. Fifty three days before his sentence is up, the Turkish High Court decides to make him an example & adds 30 years to his sentence. He becomes thoroughly demoralized & as his life in prison grows unbearable, he concludes that escape is his only option. It’s a very graphic & heart-wrenching movie & I spent about a quarter of it with my eyes & ears shut. However, the story is incredible & we both give it a thumbs up.



Let me know if you make a meze & if you watch the movie!

Thanks for reading!

xo, Erin





Super Easy Vegan Yellow Rice

Course Side Dish
Cuisine Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4
Author Erin Riordan of Embracing Life after 50


  • 2 tbsp vegan butter Earth Balance or similar
  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 1-2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • ground pepper to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh parsley chopped (optional)


  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. 

  2. Add the rice & stir until lightly browned.

  3. Add the garlic, onion powder & turmeric. Stir until well mixed.

  4. Slowly add the vegetable broth & raise the heat to medium-high. Add the salt & pepper.

  5. Bring the rice to a boil then turn down the heat to low & cover.

  6. Simmer for 20 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.

  7. Remove from heat & stir in parsley, if using.

2 thoughts on “The World on a Vegan Plate – Turkey

  1. Lucky for you the Turks use lots of veggies and rice in their cooking! The food there was delicious, and the spices they use are so fragrant. I’m disappointed you didn’t post the picture of your “smiling” cat in the fez……

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