In Turkish cuisine there is a group of dishes known as zeytinyağlı yemekler (olive oil dishes) and, of these dishes, Barbunya Pilaki is definitely our favourite. We do love our okra in olive oil on occasion (well, it is extremely healthy) and we occasionally enjoy green beans in olive oil, too, but the site of barbunya (borlotti beans) on the markets around Fethiye just screams out summer.
Barbunya season is a happy time in our house – you can buy these fresh borlotti beans from the markets of Fethiye in a bag, already podded – but there’s just no fun in that. We always buy barbunya in their pods because what more therapeutic activity than sitting on our terrace in Fethiye, enjoying the late summer breezes, podding barbunya; each colourful bean popping from its protective case and (mostly) falling into the waiting bowl (some get a bit over-excited and pop off in the opposite direction, landing on the floor). Ahh, the joy of podding… Simple pleasures!
“Olive oil dishes” could almost sound as if these types of meal are going to be really heavy on the stomach but actually, they’re the exact opposite. They’re so fresh and light – and perfect for light summer lunches or as part of your meze offerings when you have friends over for barbecues.
For this Turkish barbunya pilaki recipe, the squeeze of fresh lemon juice and the chopped parsley garnish just add to the fresh summer flavours. When we make barbunya pilaki, we make a lot, whether we have guests or not. We just can’t get enough of it and it never lasts long enough for us to have to worry about it getting past its best!
So, we’re in Fethiye. We’re going to be using seasonal fresh borlotti beans straight from the pod and at the same time, we’re blessed with the enormous summer Turkish tomatoes. We’ll be using those, too. It’s what makes seasonal cooking so great…but we know not everyone has these ingredients to hand. Not to worry. That doesn’t mean you can’t make barbunya pilaki if you’re elsewhere in the world. Tins to the rescue!
A Turkish Barbunya Pilaki Recipe
Right, time to make barbunya pilaki – borlotti beans cooked in a stew of olive oil, tomatoes, onions, green peppers and carrots.
- 1 kg fresh barbunya (borlotti) beans in pods, podded (they will weigh approx 500g after podding)
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced horizontally
- 2 large tomatoes roughly chopped
- 2 large onions, peeled, halved and sliced into half moons
- 1 green capsicum pepper deseeded, quartered lengthways and finely sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp sugar
- 1 mugful hot water
- 1 large handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- Salt & black pepper to season
- Wedge of fresh lemon to serve
- In a large saucepan, gently heat your olive oil and add the sliced carrots.
- Allow to cook for a few minutes before adding the sliced onion and green pepper.
- Stir around for 5 minutes or so until the onion starts to sweat and go transparent.
- Now add your chopped tomato, garlic and hot water.
- Add salt and pepper to taste and the sugar and stir it all together.
- Bring to the boil and then leave to simmer for approx 10 minutes.
- Now add your fresh borlotti beans.
- Stir them in, partially cover your pan with a lid and leave the barbunya pilaki to simmer for 30 minutes.
- After 30 mins, check to see if your beans are soft.
- Remove from the heat and add the barbunya pilaki to a serving dish and leave to cool.
- Once at room temperature, serve your barbunya pilaki with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the top and a garnish of chopped parsley.
If you are using tinned, chopped tomatoes, a 400g tin should be enough.
All weights are approximate and you can add or reduce quantities slightly to suit your personal taste.
Variations Of Barbunya Pilaki
As with most recipes you come across, there are variations of this Turkish barbunya pilaki recipe. Some people don’t like to add carrot, for instance, but we just love the colour changes to the sauce and also the sweet flavours created by the carrot. In fact, if you don’t want to use carrot, you might even need to add another half teaspoon of sugar, depending on your personal taste. You can see the stew has a more orange tint to it – we love our barnbunya pilaki like this.
You might also come across barbunya pilaki with small cubes of potato in it, too. We’ve experimented with this in the past but it’s not for us. This makes the dish slightly heavier – which might be better if you’re in colder parts of the world – and, like we said, when we make barbunya pilaki, we make a lot. We found we had to get through it much quicker because the potato didn’t last as long as the other ingredients in the fridge.
We’ve already said that this Turkish barbunya pilaki recipe is a perfect member of your summer meze table and it makes a great accompaniment to the grilled meat goodies coming off the barbecue. We also like to buy kömürde piliç (whole chicken roasted over coals) and eat this cold with zeytinyağlı barbunya pilaki on the side. But, however you choose to eat it, don’t skip on the parsley and lemon juice garnish – they’re essential for ultimate enjoyment!
Now, chances are, once you’ve polished off a serving of this yummy borlotti bean stew, there are going to be some tempting looking juices left behind on your plate. No fear there, though; some fresh crusty bread will sort that little problem out for you. Tear the bread, mop up the juice…enjoy!
- If you like to make barbunya pilaki, do you add carrot or potato – or neither? Let us know in the comments below.
- All of our Turkish recipes are now accessible on one page. Click to view our index of Turkish recipes.
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