Putting on the Piyaz: Turkey’s Versatile White Bean Salad

2 August 2019

Knidos Cookery Club has just arrived back at its home base on the Datça Peninsula in Turkey. We’re going to soak up some more culinary inspiration from the place where the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas meet around the ancient Greek settlement of Knidos.

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Piyaz – Turkish White Bean salad

To celebrate being back in Turkey, we’ve prepared a piyaz salad, one of the favourite dishes of Turkish cooking, that combines small white beans with some readily available staples of the local kitchen; namely tomatoes, onions, green peppers, parsley and lemons.

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Turkey’s çarliston peppers aka banana peppers

The secret of this dish is in getting the beans just right – not too mushy but not too firm either. They need a good, long overnight soak and some slow cooking to achieve the required consistency.

The dressing used varies across Turkey from the basic lemon, olive oil and apple vinegar one favoured in Istanbul to the tahini-infused one from Antalya, paying tribute to the Arabian influence from the Middle East on the city’s cuisine. We have opted for the creamy, nutty taste of the latter.

Ingredients (makes 3-4 servings)

  • 200 g dried haricot beans or other small white beans soaked overnight
  • 1 medium-sized plum tomato
  • 1 long, green pepper (e.g. çarliston pepper – see photo above)
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 lemons
  • Small bunch of parsley
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 50 ml apple vinegar
  • 25 ml tahini
  • 2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
  • Optional: Two boiled eggs or one avocado

Method

  • Cook the beans over a low heat until tender but not starting to go mushy. When cooked, drain off the cooking water, reserving 100 ml to make the dressing. Pour the vinegar and sprinkle the thyme over the beans and leave to cool.
  • After leaving for a few hours, add the vinegar the beans were soaking in to the reserved bean juice and then blend with the olive oil, tahini and the juice of one lemon to make a smooth sauce.
  • Finely dice the tomato, slice the pepper and onions into rings and chop the parsley finely. Add these to the beans.
  • Cover the salad and put it in the fridge for a few hours. Serve with wedges of the second lemon and sprinkle the red chilli flakes over the salad.
  • Just before serving, pour the dressing over the bean salad and season with black pepper and gently mix all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon.
  • You can garnish with quarters of boiled egg if you wish or, for a vegan twist, you can garnish the salad with slices of avocado.
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Rip-Red Risotto

17 November 2016

This week on Knidos Cookery Club, we’re featuring beetroot as the basis for a rip-roaringly red risotto.

In Turkish, if you want to say something is, for instance, very blue, then you add a prefix. By adding mas to mavi (blue) you end up with masmavi.  As an example, to talk about the deep blue sea you could say Masmavi engin deniz.

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A rich red colour, such as that imparted by beetroot, would come out as kıpkırmızı, or, in English, rip-red, which seems a perfect way to describe out beetroot risotto. To add a Turkish-edge to the dish, we used coarse bulgur wheat, but you can use arborio rice if you prefer.

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We added some walnuts to the mix, as they combine so well with the sweet edge of beetroot. This is quite a common combination – in Georgia walnuts are blended with grated beetroot to make pkhali.

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

250 g  whole, uncooked beetroot

50 g walnuts

100 g coarse bulgur wheat

150 ml red wine

500 ml beetroot cooking water

25 ml olive oil

one medium-sized onion

one garlic clove

one teaspoon dried thyme

one teaspoon dried rosemary

one teaspoon cumin seeds

black pepper and salt to taste

sprig of fresh basil leaves

Method

Boil the washed but unpeeled beetroot in a saucepan for 30 minutes. Put the beetroot in cold water, keeping the water you used to cook the beetroot separate, and then peel and top and tail the beetroot when cool. Put to one side.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based pan and add the cumin seeds. Cook until the seeds are beginning to burn and then add the diced onion and garlic, dried thyme and rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is going translucent.

Add the washed bulgur wheat and stir to coat the grains. Add the glass of wine and stir occasionally until the liquid is absorbed. Add a third of the vegetable stock and keep cooking and stirring until the liquid is absorbed. Add more stock until the bulgur wheat is cooked and the risotto has a creamy consistency and then turn off the heat.

Meanwhile, gently toast the walnut pieces in a small frying pan and chop the beetroot into small, 1 cm cubes. Mix the beetroot and toasted walnut into the bulgur wheat risotto.

Garnish with fresh basil leaves -green ones make a better contrast to the red of the risotto, but we could only find the mauve coloured variety. Serve with a green salad.

 

 

Battle of the Beans 1: Small is Beautiful

14 July 2016

When it comes to food, Turkey and Greece have more in common than they’ll often admit. They share a love for small cups of strong coffee and sweet tooths all around the Aegean Sea love baklava,  made from chopped nuts and layers of filo pastry drenched in honey.

On the savoury side, no selection of starters is complete without that famous yogurt dip made with cucumber and garlic – known as cacık in Turkish, tzatziki in Greek. A Turk’s ıspanaklı börek is a spanakopita to a Greek.

One area where there is some clear water between the Greek and Turkish kitchen is the choice of which bean to combine with a rich tomato sauce. While the Greeks favour dried giant white beans to make the dish known as gigantes plaki, in Turkey this dish is made with the smaller haricot, or navy, bean and is called kuru fasulye. Greece also has a dish made from small white beans called fasolada, but this is more of a soup.

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Dried white beans awaiting a soaking

This week on Knidos Cookery Club, we’ll be looking at the Turkish version. When thinking about Turkey’s national dish the döner kebab or köfte, meatballs, generally spring to mind, but in fact it is the humble kuru fasulye that takes the honour. It’s the ultimate Turkish comfort food when served up with pilav, a portion of rice cooked with orzo pasta.

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Kindos Cookery Club’s take on the Turkish classic kuru fasulye and pilav

The version that came out of the Knidos Cookery Club kitchen was a bit drier than some found in Turkish cafes. For a saucier version of this dish, add more liquid during the cooking stage; perhaps 100 ml more of water or stock or reserved cooking liquid from the beans.

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

250 g dried white beans (haricot or any small white beans you can find) soaked overnight

Four medium-sized plum tomatoes

One medium-sized red onion

One green pepper (the long, thin banana-shaped one)

3-4 teaspoons red pepper paste

200 ml cooking liquid reserved from the beans (use 100 ml more for a runnier sauce)

Seasoning: pinches  of salt and pepper, a teaspoon of cumin

Fresh parsley to garnish the finished dish

50 ml olive oil

100 g orzo pasta (pasta shaped like grains of rice)

300 g washed rice

Method 

Cook the beans in a pan of water. Bring to the boil, then simmer over a lower heat for up to 45 minutes or so until the beans are cooked but not going soft. Skim off the foam periodically.

Heat the 25 ml of oil in a heavy-based pan and then add the chopped onion. Cook until translucent over a medium heat. Add the diced green pepper and keep cooking for another 4-5 minutes.

Add  the tomatoes – grate them to remove the skins. Add the red pepper paste and season with salt, black pepper and cumin. Pour in the reserved cooking water from the beans and stir. Add the beans, give it a good stir and keep it bubbling away for 15 minutes or so. You want the beans to stay firm.

To make the rice, heat 25 ml olive oil in a heavy-based pan then add the orzo and stir. Cook until the orzo starts to turn a golden colour. Now add the drained, washed rice and keep stirring. When the rice is coated with oil, pour in water or stock so the rice is covered by about 1 cm of liquid. Add salt if required.

Turn the heat down and cook until all the water is absorbed. turn off the heat and allow it to stand for 10 minutes or so and cover with a clean tea towel or some kitchen roll and put the lid on.

Serve the rice and beans together, garnishing the beans with some chopped parsley. have some crusty bread like a baguette on hand to soak up the juices.