Turkish White Bean Salad from the Mediterranean Coast
The food of Turkey's southern coast is heavily influenced by its nearest neighbors. In the western part of the region, cuisine is influenced by its proximity to Greece; the eastern part is influenced more by Syria.
The foods in the eastern cities of Adana and Mersin actually fit more with the types of foods found in the Southeast Anatolia region, including dishes such as a spicy minced-lamb kebab (Adana kebabı) and stir-fried beef or lamb wrapped in thin bread (tantuni). More traditional Mediterranean dishes typically include seafood, fresh produce and olive oil.
The sunny and warm Mediterranean climate makes this region particularly well-suited to agriculture. In some areas, farmers are able to grow bananas, avocados and pineapples because they do not experience a frost at any point in the year. Many of the crops grown in this region are made into jams. Preserved foods (including jam, yogurt and dried fruits and meats) are important in the Turkish tradition of moving inward from the coast to the high plateau regions (yayla) during hot summer months to let livestock graze. While few still live this nomadic lifestyle, preserved foods still inform Turkish food culture.
From the city of Antalya, the dish Antalya piyazı is packed with nutritious ingredients and bold flavors: white beans, fresh vegetables and herbs are tossed in a tangy dressing of extra-virgin olive oil, tahini paste, lemon juice and red wine vinegar.
While piyaz is often served as a side dish, I think that this recipe can stand alone as a main dish. This recipe contains hard-boiled eggs, but if you would like to make it vegan, decorate the salad with some olives instead.
- 3½ cups canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1½ cups tomato, diced, divided
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut into moon-shaped slices, then rubbed with salt and drained in water
- 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 3 to 4 large eggs, hard-boiled and sliced
- ¼ cup tahini
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (approximately 1 to 2 lemons)
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Prepare the dressing by whisking together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. This will yield approximately 1 cup of dressing.
- In a large bowl, gently combine white beans, half of the tomatoes, onion and dressing.
- Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to allow flavors to come together.
- Scoop salad onto four serving plates and top with remaining tomato, parsley and hard-boiled eggs. Serves 4.
- Make the recipe vegan-friendly by substituting olives instead of hard-boiled eggs.
Brittany Peterson is a dietetic intern and masters student at the College of St. Elizabeth in New Jersey. She has lived, studied and traveled throughout Turkey. Read her blog, Anatolian Kitchen, and connect with her on Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest.
(Photos: Brittany Peterson)