You will love today’s dish. You’ll love it for a lot of reasons. You’ll make it, love it, and then you’ll love me. Here’s why:
Are those the five standards for the perfect dish? Maybe not in your kitchen, but definitely in mine. Introducing kuru fasulye, or stewed white bean salad.
During my 24 hours in Istanbul a few weeks ago, I noticed that the Turks really love their salads. Hot, cold, creamy or not, they were part of every menu, every buffet line and even had a place at what will now in my head be referred to as The Best Breakfast Buffet in the History of Travel Ever. In fact, I even ate this very dish with dinner while I was there, and I didn’t realize what I was eating until I came upon this recipe in written form.
Back in pre-blog times when my weekly menu often lacked a plan, I’d throw something resembling this meal together quite often. Tired, hungry, and scrounging the pantry for staples, it was easy, and I usually had everything it required on hand. Little did I know that it was actually “a thing” elsewhere in the world.
Thanks again to the Turkish Air magazine for having recipes, it was they who gave my hodge-podge of ingredients a name, and some legitimacy to this kitchen-sink dish. Of course I made some changes: I swapped red pepper for green hot peppers, added fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon (when don’t I?), kissed the butter good-bye and omitted the baby’s tears.
Baby’s tears…whaaat? Apparently that’s an ingredients around that part of the Mediterranean and not only could I not find it in these Chicago parts, I had a bit of a time trying to figure out a substitute. The best I could find was watercress, which of course I forgot to buy, so I’ll call that an optional ingredient. I’m awesome like that sometimes. Fold it in at the end for some greenery.
I opted to serve this with some grilled calamari steaks. Being so close to the sea, seafood is a huge staple in this part of the world and one of my first bites when I went to Athens way back when was actually grilled calamari. While I love the fried version (who doesn’t?), lean and clean was the name of this game, so I bought some calamari steaks, lightly seasoned them, threw them on the grill and called it a day. The whole shebang was done in less than 20 minutes. I think we can all get on board with that.
Side note: I think this salad would also be great cold and a welcome addition to any summer BBQ. Fold in some Greek yogurt if you’re looking for something creamier. Just thinking out loud.
1 can cannellini beans
2 medium onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 red pepepers, your choice, sliced thin and diced the same size as your onions
2 tomatoes, diced
1 medium lemon, juiced
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Handful of watercress
Handful of flat-leaf Italian parsley
1 TB olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 large calamari steaks
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1. In a large Ziploc bag, add the steaks, salt and pepper, 2 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes. Set aside and preheat the grill.
2. In a large sauté pan, add the 1 TB olive oil and onions and red pepper. Cook 5-7 minutes until the onions are translucent and pepper is soft. Add the garlic, tomatoes and beans and cook until the ingredients really melt together, another 5 minutes.
3. In the last five minutes that the beans are cooking, grill the calamari steaks until done, about 2 minutes on each side. They won’t take long.
4. Finish off the beans by adding the lemon and folding in the watercress and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and an extra squeeze of lemon as you wish.