Turkish Braised Green Beans

Turkish Braised Green Beans simmered in a lightly spiced tomato sauce make for a great appetizer, mezze dish or side dish for roast chicken or lamb.

Partial view of a platter of Turkish green beans.
Alison Bickel

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.

Side view of braised green beans on an oval platter.
Alison Bickel

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.

Side view of a plate with green beans in tomato sauce, mashed potatoes and chicken. A glass of wine is behind the plate.
Alison Bickel

More Recipes by Yasmin Khan

Turkish Braised Green Beans

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 54 mins
Total Time 64 mins
Servings 4 servings
Yield 1 quart braised green beans

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

  1. 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.

    Onions cooking in a pot to make Turkish-style braised green beans.
    Alison Bickel
  2. 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.

    Onions and canned tomatoes cooking in a pot to make Turkish-style braised green beans.
    Alison Bickel
    A simmering pot onions and tomatoes to make braised green beans.
    Alison Bickel
  3. 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.

    Green beans added to a pot of onions and tomatoes on the stove to make Turkish green beans.
    Alison Bickel
  4. 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.

    Overhead view of Turkish-style braised green beans on a plate with chicken potatoes.
    Alison Bickel