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Monday, September 27, 2010

Turkish Special: White Bean Meze

For whatever reason when menu planning for this week, I somehow overlooked Sunday. I was in a quandry: if I cooked Monday's meal on Sunday and shifted thus, Monday wouldn't be Meatless Monday. Not that a vegetarian meal any other day of the week wouldn't count. But if I didn't tap into my menu, what would I make? Decisions, decisions.

Then I was suddenly in the mood for Turkish food. I began leafing through my Turkish cookbooks and happily came across zetinyagli fasulye (which isn't exactly right, but unless you speak Turkish, you have no idea what the hell I'm talking about anyway). It's white beans stewed in garlic cloves and olive oil and is usually served as a meze, the Turkish version of a Spanish tapas. I realized we had all the ingredients and it's something Noyan and I both love--we'd have to see about the kiddo.

This white bean meze, like most other Turkish foods, is prepared with simple ingredients. But much like French cooking, despite the simple ingredients of Turkish, the cuisine has lots of prep work and many fussy steps. The way I prepare this dish takes a few steps out, like soaking and cooking the beans. Canned beans mean soft beans, allowing you to cut down your cooking time. I also use canned tomatoes. In this instance, it was all I had, however, using canned tomatoes cuts down on one vegetable to chop.

White Bean Meze

2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed
2 medium onions, finely chopped
12 small garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
4 small carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup plus 2 to 4 tbsp olive oil
1 can diced tomatoes
3 tbsp sugar
salt to taste
2 cups water

In a large pot, cook onions, garlic, and carrots in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until soft. Do not let them brown. Add tomatoes, 1/2 cup olive oil, the sugar, salt, and water. Simmer for about an hour.

After you've cooked the beans for the hour, if you find the mixture is too soupy, ladle out some of the liquid. (I'd suggest saving the liquid and eating the broth as a soup!) Let cool, transfer to a serving bowl, and refridgerate until cold. Serve cold or at room temperature with crusty bread.

The Verdict: Even Amir scarfed this stuff down!

This dish is best served on a plate with a fork, using your bread to sop up the liquid. I also served the bread and beans along side a hard boiled egg and some sliced cheese. This is a great recipe when you need to bring a dish to a party.

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