Almost Turkish Recipes

Green Beans with Tomato Sauce (Zeytinyağlı Taze Fasulye)

Olive oil dishes, dishes that are cooked exclusively with quite-shocking-to-some amount of olive oil and served cold or at room temperature, are the vegetarian staples of summer tables in Turkey. I bet if you open a random fridge at any given time in Turkey you can find at least two different olive oil dish. One of the most common olive oil dish is the green beans in tomato sauce. Green beans cooked in this style are good mezes/appetizers available at any restaurant/pub and a main dish on its own served with rice/grains or crusty bread. It makes a great lunch in steamy hot summer days. What follows is a quite straightforward traditional recipe.

1 pound of fresh green beans (The ones most similar to those in Turkey are, no doubt, Italian broad beans. However, they're hard to come by. And the next best is French beans. My favorite easy to find ones are Trader Joe's Haricots Verts. These thin French green beans are so fresh and skinny that they don't need trimming of any sort, which is super time consuming yet a must for a good green bean dish. If you will use anything other than haricots verts, trim the beans and snap the tails. Cut the beans into 2 or 3, depending on their length. Don't use American green beans, not worth it.
if to find non-American fresh green beans is a challenge for you you can use 1 pack of frozen green beans that most major grocery chains sell (either french style or Italian cut, not the American ones)
1 big onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, sliced or chopped
2 big or 4 medium fresh tomatoes, finely chopped, grated, or blended or 1 can of petite diced tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
~1 cup hot water

1/8 tsp ground cumin (although not a traditional ingredient in green beans, I do love the touch of cumin in this dish)
1 tbsp tomato paste (this is a summer dish and cooked during high tomato season, yet some people do like the dark, robust color of the tomato paste or use it when they don't have enough tomatoes to supplement.)

-If you're using fresh green beans clean and trim them to 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces.
-Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot or in a pressure cooker and cook the chopped onions until soft.

-Add garlic and sugar, and stir until garlic is fragrant-1 minute.
-If you want to use tomato paste add it at this point and stir for a minute.
-Add the beans with cumin, if you're using any, and stir them until beans slightly change color (app. 4-6 mins).
-Add the tomatoes and cook for 3-5 mins and then add water and salt. Water should cover the beans completely, but not too much to make them seem like they're swimming in it.

-Cover the pan and cook with low to medium heat until the beans are soft. Approximately 25-30 minutes. If you're using a pressure cooker. Cover and cook for 12-14 minutes after it reaches high pressure.
-Regardless of in what kind of pot you cook them, you need to let it cool in the pot. Never transfer an olive oil dish from its pot until it gets to room temperature.

Olive oil dishes are traditionally served at room temperature or cold, however we won't judge if you do warm it up. They taste even better the next day. 

Pickled Red Cabbage (Kırmızı Lahana Turşusu)

The prettiest, the most vibrant pickle ever, the pickled red cabbage, is offered as a delicious meze/tapas/side at many Turkish restaurants across the country. I'm  a total pickle freak and this one is a staple in our fridge. We have it on salads, on hot sandwiches (try it on your reuben!), or simply as a side dish.

1 red cabbage, grated or very finely sliced
~2 tbsp coarse sea salt
apple vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced optional (It's not traditional, but I do like my pickled cabbages a bit garlicy and place them in the jar with just a little bit of minced garlic)

-Grate the red cabbage and rub it with coarse sea salt until it oozes its color and softens.
-Stuff the cabbage in clean glass jars.
-In a separate bowl or jar mix equal parts of water and vinegar. For one medium size cabbage I usually use 3-4 cups of vinegar mix. (If you want your pickle garlicy, add it now)
-Fill the cabbage jar with vinegar liquid all the way to the top.
-Store in the fridge.
-Your pickle will be ready to eat in 3 days and you can keep enjoying it for 2-3 months.

Celery Root and Quince with Olive Oil (Zeytinyağlı Ayvalı Kereviz)

It's the season for celery roots, aka celeriac, and quinces and these two go marvelously well together in this Aegean inspired dish.

1 celery root, ~1,5-2 lb, peeled and cubed
1 quince, peeled and cubed
1 carrot, peeled and cut in half moons
1 medium onion, finely chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp sugar
1-1,5 tsp salt
2 tbsp flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped celery leaves, parsley, or dill

-In a mid size bowl, mix 4 cups of water, lemon juice and flour.
-Place the peeled and diced celery root in the water and stir. If the water doesn't cover the celery root, add more water.
-Heat olive oil in a wide pot and add onions.
-Stir until soft, 8-10 minutes, but do not let them brown.
-Add sugar and stir.
-Add carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes.
-Take the celery out of the lemon-flour water with a slotted spoon and add to the pot. Preserve the water.
-Add quince.
-Add 1 cup of the water with lemon and flour to the pot. Top it with regular hot water until the vegetables are barely covered. (For a different taste, top with orange juice)
-Salt to taste.
-Simmer covered on medium for 20-25 minutes.
-Turn it off and let cool down to room temperature in the pot, covered.
-Once at room temperature, bring it to a serving plate and sprinkle with finely chopped celery leaves, parsley, or dill.

Olive oil dishes are always served at room temperature. They're even more flavorful the second day.
Enjoy with a splash of lemon juice on top, with crusty bread or rice, or on its own.