Did you know Turkish cuisine is viewed by culinary experts and gastronomes alike as one of the top ten cuisines in the world? Indeed, because of its special geographical position, and due to the influences of various civilizations and peoples that lived through the centuries in Anatolia, Turkey has a very rich cuisine, varied and colorful.
The nutritional self-sufficiency provided by the climatic diversity of the country has also contributed to the continuing evolution of its cuisine while at the same time keeping the old culinary traditions of a distant past. While we do find similarities across the country, each region naturally offers different specialties.
For instance, in central Anatolia and in the south-east meats are very popular. They are prepared using traditional methods. There is a preference for cereals, rice and bulgur (cracked wheat) over vegetables. The recipes in this region are usually quite spicy. Whereas, in the Aegean region we see an abundance of olive oil based vegetables dishes, herbs, fruits such as figs and grapes, and seafood.
Istanbul is the gastronomic center of Turkey. Its cuisine has developed through centuries of coexistence and blending of various ethnic traditions in the cosmopolitan metropolis (Turkish, Armenian, Greek, Jewish, Kurdish, European, Arabic, Russian, etc.).
Meals usually begin with a soup, followed by vegetables dishes cooked in olive oil. Turkish style charcoal grilled meats and fish recipes served as main course are incontestably some of the best in the world. Throughout the country, vegetables preserved in brine ( turshu ) are much appreciated. Yogurt accompanies many meals and is usually served as a sauce.
Because Turkish cuisine offers, among other things, a multitude of olive oil based vegetable dishes, cooking Turkish can be very good for your health. Here is an example of an olive oil based recipe that I strongly suggest you try. This green bean recipe is like no other green bean recipe you have ever tasted. It is versatile as it can be served cold or warm, respectively as an appetizer or as a side dish. Indeed, this particular recipe is definitely one of my favorites, and anytime I cook it for my friends they simply can not believe that green beans can taste this good! So, here it is for your enjoyment:
Cooking Turkish Style Green Beans
Ingredients and Preparation
– 2.5 pounds fresh green beans
– 4 large tomatoes
– 4 medium sized onions
– 1 cup olive oil
– 1 teaspoon sugar
– 1 teaspoon salt
Wash the beans. Cut and discard the tips. Set aside.
In a lidded saucepan, chop the onions and crush the tomatoes. Add the salt and combine well the onion-tomato mixture by mixing and pressing with the hands for 1 minute.
Add the beans, the oil and the sugar. Stir once, cover and cook over high heat for 15 minutes stirring from time to time until the beans acquire a yellowish color.
Add 4 cups of water, bring to boil, then cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes. If there is still too much liquid in the pan, remove the lid and extend the cooking for a few more minutes.
Refrigerate before serving since this dish is preferably served cold as an appetizer, but it can also be served warm as a side dish.
Here is a final tip: if you have kids who do not like to eat their vegetables, try this one on them served slightly warmed up. I bet you will be pleasantly surprised!