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Taze Fasulye - Green Beans

This is another classic food dish in Turkey and one of our favourites. It’s a great way of dealing with the glut of runner beans at the end of the summer.

The Turks are picky about their beans, hence ‘taze fasulye’ literally ‘fresh beans’, preferably plucked straight from their vegetable garden. Many Turkish cooks will tell you it should take less than an hour from the moment they are picked to the time they are put in the pot. Oh to have one’s own personal bean plants just outside the kitchen door! In the absence of such, try visiting your local farmers market and sprinting back home.

Ingredients (serves: 6):

1 kg green beans (small fresh tender runner beans if at all possible)
250 ml extra virgin olive oil
3 medium sized chopped onions
2 large fresh peeled and flavourful tomatoes (alternatively one can of chopped tomatoes). Canned tomatoes are better than anaemic fresh ones!
2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons sugar
Water to cover the beans

Basic prep takes about 15 minutes. Cooking time is approx 1 hour. Fresh beans may need only 45 mins, but allow anything up to one and a half hours if the beans are older.

Top and tail the beans (many Turks do this by breaking the tips off rather than cutting. With lovely fresh beans this is a doddle, and can be faster than cutting), then string them and break them in half.

Pour the olive oil into a large pan and warm. Fry the onions until they are soft and translucent. Chop the tomatoes into small pieces and add them to the onions (or pour in the can of already chopped tomatoes). Add the beans, salt and sugar. Mix well, and pour over enough water to cover the beans. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat. Cook the beans on a slow simmer for approx 1 hour until they are lovely and tender, and the sauce is well reduced. Try them for texture.

The Turks serve the beans once they have cooled down to room temperature (or even chilled), but they are also delicious served hot. Drizzle some olive oil on before serving. On our gulet cruises we often have the beans together with a fresh salad, natural yoghurt and Turkish rice (pilav).

Now for the important bit. Picture blue skies, bright golden sunshine, and a shimmering sea – a typical day on the mediterranean coast in Turkey. If you’re in London or Seattle on a grey rainy day you’ll really need to let your imagination fly. Only when you’re in the right frame of mind should you try the beans. Taze Fasulye should be tangy, tasty and above all Turkish!

Afiyet Olsun (Bon Appetit)!

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