Turkish cuisine features an array of vegetable dishes that are cooked simply, doused with lots of extra virgin olive oil and then served at room temperature. They are called zeytinyağlılar, which means ‘those with olive oil’ and are a great way to use up seasonal vegetables.
This recipe is inspired by those dishes and is a tender green bean dish simmered in a lightly spiced tomato sauce. You can serve the Turkish Braised Green Beans as an appetizer or mezze dish, along some lightly toasted bread to scoop up its flavorsome juices, or as a vegetable side alongside some roast chicken or lamb.
It can also be served as a main course, which is how I like to eat it, spooned over some steamed white basmati rice, with a good dollop of full-fat strained natural yogurt on the side and plenty of extra virgin olive oil drizzled on top of everything.
Tips and Tricks on How to Make Turkish Braised Green Beans
The trick to imparting maximum flavor into this dish is to cook the onions low and slow. Don’t rush this beginning process as it’s essential to giving the dish its depth of flavor. Onions take at least 15-20 minutes to soften properly so take your time and you’ll be rewarded with a more flavorsome stew.
The other main recommendation is to cook the beans until they are fully soft. This isn’t a recipe where you want crisp or crunchy beans.
Turkish-Style Green Beans Swaps and Substitutions
Here are a few swaps and substitutions you can use for this stew:
- In summer, if you have good quality tomatoes available to you, feel free to substitute them for the canned ones, though you may want to add a tablespoon of tomato puree if you do that, to add a bit more richness to the stew.
- You could also make this with sliced runner beans instead of green beans, if can source any. They are more traditional in Turkish cuisine. Simply slice the beans into 2-inch pieces on the diagonal and cook them as per the instructions below.
- If you like a bit more intensity you can also substitute the sweet paprika for smoky paprika. This recipe uses pul biber (Aleppo pepper) which is a mild and fruity Turkish red pepper flake, which is often used as dishes in Turkish cuisine and is often used as a condiment, placed on the table alongside salt and pepper. You can find it in most supermarkets and online but you can easily use any mild chili flake in its place.
Make Ahead and Storage for Turkish Braised Green Beans
This is a fantastic dish to make ahead as the flavors only improve with time. It will also taste better the next day once all the ingredients have had time to harmonize with each other.
It also keeps very well and can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days after cooking. Depending on the weather, or what you are serving it with, you can serve this warm, cold or at room temperature (the latter being how it is commonly eaten in Turkey). If you are going to serve it that way, simply take the leftovers out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before you want to eat it.
More Recipes by Yasmin Khan
Turkish Braised Green Beans
- 3 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil
- 2 small onions, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes or any mild chili flake
- 1 (15 ounce can) whole plum tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1 pound green beans, trimmed
- Extra virgin olive oil
Cook the onions:
In a large saucepan over medium heat add the canola oil. Once the oil is hot add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, 15-20 minutes.
Add garlic, spices, tomatoes, and simmer:
Add the garlic, cumin, cinnamon, paprika, and Aleppo pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and a generous grind of black pepper.
Gently break up the tomatoes with a back of a wooden spoon. Add 1/2 cup of hot water, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Cook the green beans:
Add the green beans and stir well, making sure they are well coated in the tomato sauce. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, or until the beans are soft. If the stew starts to get dry, you can add another 1/2 cup of water.
Finish and serve:
Take the beans off the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning and leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving.