Turkish Pilaki Beans & Shepherd’s Salad
For a weeknight dinner or for company 🎉, I love meals like this with lots of fresh, small dishes (meze) that people can choose to eat separately, together in a pita, or on a salad 🥗 ! These Turkish pilaki beans and this Greek 🇬🇷/Shepherd’s salad are great additions. In this pic, the protein is slow-roasted Lamb shoulder, but just about any roasted or grilled meat is delicious as is falafel, hummus, baba ganoush, tzatziki, pickles, pickled jalapeño, or even a beet salad. You can serve as many or as few (though I’d try to do at least 4 for some variety) of these little dishes as you’d like. I find a meal like this is also great since people eat in such varied ways. Many of them are vegan/plant based 🌿, dairy free, and gluten free. My recipe for the beans was based on one given to me by @give_recipe
Turkish Pilaki Beans
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided)
- 1 ⅓ cup (250 grams) dried cranberry/borlotti beans
- 1 medium-large onion, diced
- 1 or 2 medium carrots, diced (about 1 cup diced)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons (40 grams) tomato paste
- 1 can (400 grams) canned whole plum tomatoes – you can also use fresh
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt + more to taste
- 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
- 115 grams baby spinach (not traditionally in this dish, but highly recommended by me 🙂
- 1–2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (to taste)
- additional salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Garnish with 2 handfuls of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- 1 European cucumber, seeds removed and cubed
- 1 small container (250 grams) of cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
- About 25 pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped
- 100 grams (3 ½ oz) feta cheese, crumbled
- ½ red onion, diced (I don’t add this because I don’t love raw onion. Unless you’re like me, definitely add it!)
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 or 2 lemons)
- 2 handfuls fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- some freshly chopped dill (optional)
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste. You can also taste for salt, but I don’t think this needs much, if any, because the olives and feta give it plenty of salty flavor.
Turkish Pilaki Beans
- In a strainer, rinse the beans and place in a medium bowl with plenty of water. Cover with plastic wrap and let them sit on the counter overnight*. Drain the water, give the beans another rinse, and place them in a pot covered by about 2-3 inches of water. Place on the stove and simmer until they’re soft. I really like when the beans get a creamy texture, so I let them go for a while, but you can cook according to your personal taste. Depending on the age of the beans, it can take anywhere from ½ hour to up to 2 hours. Make sure you keep an eye on them and add more water as necessary.
*Sometimes I forget to soak my beans. I find that if you just put plenty of water in the pot, eventually they’ll get soft.
- Place 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until it’s soft and translucent, about 5-10 minutes. Add in the carrot and garlic and cook for another minute. Then add in the tomato paste, tomatoes, salt, sugar, and cumin and cook for about 10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add in the beans. If you don’t have too much liquid left in the pot, add the beans and the liquid into the sauté pan and cook until everything has thickened. If there’s still more than an inch of water covering the beans you can drain some out and then add to the pan. Cook for about 15 minutes. Mix in the spinach, and cook until wilted -about a minute or 2.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice and remaining olive oil. Top with fresh parsley and another drizzle of olive oil. Don’t skimp on the olive oil. It really adds nice flavor.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Mix all ingredients together, and serve immediately. Alternatively, you can make it a few hours in advance and add the olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice just before serving.