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.

20190802_125534-e1564740306182.jpg
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.

20190801_160820.jpg

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.

A Passion for Purslane

19 May 2016

This week on Knidos Cookery Club we’ll be looking at some ways of using purslane, our favourite weed. This highly-nutritious plant is called semizotu and is widely cultivated in Turkey, where it also grows wild. It’s used in salads, soups and stews.

IMG_0796
Freshly-picked purslane

Purslane has a crunchy texture and a lemony taste and can be used as a substitute for spinach and watercress. This superweed is packed with vitamins – it has the highest concentration of vitamin E of any plant and also contains a useful essential omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid, reports motherearthnews.com.

In the Knidos area, it’s a mainstay of meze, or starter, combos when served with yogurt and a hint of garlic. The leaves and stems are also good as a simple but tasty salad dressed with a tahini sauce.

IMG_0776
Purslane in a tahini dressing

We’ve opted for a vitamin-packed spring stew, Semizotu Nohutlu Bulgur Pilavı with purslane, chick peas (garbanzo beans), tomato. carrot and bulgur wheat. Here’s what the finished dish should look like:

IMG_0807

Ingredients (serves3-4)

One bunch of purslane

One medium-sized onion

Two carrots

Four medium-sized tomatoes

100 g coarse bulgur wheat

One can chick peas or 150 g dried chick peas soaked overnight and boiled for an hour or so

One bay leaf

Fresh herbs – parsley and mint

A pinch of cumin, cinnamon, black pepper, red chili flakes, thyme and salt

250 ml warm water

25 ml olive oil

Method

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based pan and add the chopped onion, the bay leaf and a sprinkle of dried thyme.

Slice the carrot into 50 mm rounds then chop up the tomatoes. When the onions are translucent, add the carrots to the mix and after five minutes or so add the tomatoes.

Cook for another five minutes then add the chick peas, bulgur wheat and water and season with the fresh herbs and spices.

Stir well and bring to the boil. Then turn the heat down, add the purslane and cook over a low heat for 20-25 minutes until the bulgur wheat is cooked but still a bit chewy.

Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes then serve with yogurt and garnish with mint.

Afiyet olsun!