The Turkish Bean Salad, known as Piyaz was one of my favourite dishes to eat on my trip to Turkey a few years back. In Istanbul, in many of the restaurants, the second you sat down, would see a ninja like waiter sweep into view, proudly parading a giant tray of small meze plates to tempt you; like creamy and sweet carrot salad or the deliciously earthy and sweet beetroot salad. You'd point and pick (a great way to order food) at the plates that looked most appealing.
He'd disappear with his tray, leaving you no food - only to return a few moments later with a fresh version of what you'd ordered. I loved pointing and picking! The only downside is that I usually pointed a little too enthusiastically and overate every time.
Frequently on the tray was a version of white bean salad - I LOVE beans, so was always pointing at that first. I didn't know what to expect taste wise as it's a little beige but was pleasantly surprised that it really packed a punch.
A citrus hit
Each version was slightly different, some using different white beans like Navy Beans, Cannellini Beans and Butter Beans, but they all shared a sharp, acidic and citrus hit that was quite unexpected. Lemon was the dominant flavour which brought a burst of freshness to the dish. The sharpness paired beautifully with the rich creamy beans to give an overall filling, but light dish.
We'd usually take advantage of the awesome seafood in Istanbul and this salad paired wonderfully. Although we also ate this dish in other parts of Turkey where lamb was the speciality and the salad held its own against meat too. It's a bit of a star salad that I whip up regularly to much applause.
How to make my Turkish Bean Salad
- 1 400g can of cannellini beans
- 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt (plain)
- 1 ground cumin
- 1 lemon (juice of)
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- 1 tbsp fresh mint or dill or parsley (chopped)
- 2 tbsp finely sliced red onion
- 1/2 tsp Sumac
- Drain the cannellini beans, retaining the liquid.
- In a large bowl, stir to combine the beans with yoghurt, cumin, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil and salt & pepper. Add a little of the bean liquid if it's too thick in texture - it should have the consistency of double cream.
- Pour the beans mix onto a platter and then sprinkle with the herbs, onions and sumac. Add a fresh grinding of black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
- Serve at room temperature for best flavour. The white bean salad pairs well with meat, fish and poultry as a side dish - I personally love it with lamb and chicken.
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