Turkish zeytinyagli

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So in my last post I mentioned I’d share a recipe or two for vegetables that are slow cooked in extra Virgin olive oil – or zeytinyagli. I’d read about this method of cooking vegetables in Rebecca Seal’s Istanbul book but never before tasted or tried them. I tried several zeytinyagli dishes while in Turkey this week and understand the appeal. Best eaten room temperature, the vegetables take on an unbelievably silky soft texture and the full flavour of the olive oil. I encountered carrots, peppers, chard and green beans cooked in this way and enjoyed them all thoroughly. I was surprised to not miss the al dente crunch of the vegetables actually. A sentiment shared by Rebecca Seal in her opening comments on the recipes below, which I’ve taken, tried and listed here almost word for word. It’s an eye-opening and delicious new way for me to be preparing vegetables, a method I’ll certainly be keeping up my sleeve!

I tried two zeytinyagli recipes tonight and served them warm with fresh fried trout. They are delicious cold too, so save your leftovers for lunch! Each of the recipes below will give you enough for four people as part of a fuller meal. They’re quite rich with all that oil so you don’t want too large a portion.

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Rebecca explains that stronger tasting vegetables don’t need much help, so the slow cooked leeks have barely any ingredients. The beans however, employ tomatoes, onions and garlic to instil a little more flavour. Both recipes were quite delicious, the leeks subtler and a perfect accompaniment to fish. The beans would be lovely served with bread to mop up the tomatoey goodness. In fact bread mops are a great idea with all zeytinyagli dishes. Simple, lovely – and just like those I tasted in Turkey.

For the leeks:

4 leeks, cleaned, ends discarded and sliced into 3cm chunks
100ml olive oil
2.5 tbspn water
Salt
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Method:

1 – Preheat the oven to 160 degrees.
2 – Place the leek slices cut side up in a baking dish and pour over the olive oil, water and season well.
3 – Cover the tray well with foil and place in the oven for 1 hour, until the leeks are completely soft and melting.
4 – Leave to cool slightly before squeezing over the lemon juice and serving.

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For the beans:

200g green beans, trimmed
4 ripe tomatoes, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 large garlic clove, sliced
1/2 white onion, diced
100ml olive oil
Water, to cover
Salt and pepper

Method:

1 – Heat a little of the oil in a large deep saucepan and add the onion.
2 – Cook over a low-medium heat for ten minutes or so until translucent but not browned.
3 – Add the garlic, beans, tomatoes and a generous amount of salt and pepper
4 – Stir the pour in the remaining olive oil, then pour in enough water to just cover the beans. Cover with a lid, and leave to simmer for 45 minutes.
5 – Remove the lid and continue to cool for a further 20 minutes or so until the liquid reduces slightly and the beans melt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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