Mon 30 Jun 2014

Food Without Fuss: Seven A Day, The Turkish Way


This recipe, while hopefully of use and interest to all, was written with the Summer 2014 selections of The Society’s Wine Without Fuss subscription scheme particularly in mind. Voted Best Wine Club by both The Independent and Which? magazine, Wine Without Fuss offers regular selections of delicious wines with the minimum of fuss. Why not join the growing band of members who let their Society take the strain, and are regularly glad they do?

Find out more about Wine Without Fuss in a short video on our website.

Janet Wynne Evans

Janet Wynne Evans

First it was five and now it’s seven, though ideally our continued well-being needs nearer 10-12 portions of fruit and veg a day – quite a challenge for most omnivores especially on those days when only a big plate of chips will convince us that life can’t be all bad. However, on a recent holiday in Istanbul, I found a secret weapon in the struggle to eat responsibly. It’s called meze.

This dazzling array of little starter dishes is merely the appetiser for a traditional Turkish meal, but they are so moreish, and provoke such indecision, that the main course is often abandoned. Aubergines, chickpeas, olives and tomatoes are always in evidence, as are grated fennel and carrot and stuffed cabbage. A bit of minced lamb might figure, or deep-fried calamari with tarator, the unctuous Levantine dip of soaked white bread and pounded walnuts, pine nuts or tahini. But the main thrust of a meze moment is fresh vegetables, simply prepared sometimes with gentle, but intriguing spices like sumac, sometimes just a little seasoning. A few of these instead of the usual meat and two veg will easily satisfy both the inner man and the health police.

Like some of my favourite recipes, the one that follows fell quite unexpectedly into my collection. Promotional literature in hotel rooms is usually best left undisturbed but the pile of predictable corporate guff in mine contained a wondrous publication called Cornucopia: Istanbul Unwrapped, which greatly enhanced my stay, from tips on unearthing treasures in the bewildering Grand Bazaar to seasonal eats. It took all my restraint not to half-inch the whole magazine, but I could not resist scribbling down this simple but terrific recipe from its publisher, the food writer and photographer Berrin Torolsan.

Food Without Fuss Green Bean and Tomato Salad with Pinot BlancThe ingredients are few and straightforward and the dish can be left to chunter away while you see to other pressing matters (like rubbing a bit of lamb with a few of those Grand Bazaar spices, ready for the barbecue). Turkish wines have never been better, as I hope members have discovered for themselves in our Lists, but the point about meze is that they marry happily with many other regions, styles and colours.

In moderation, of course. If a glass of vinified grapes counted as a seven-a-day portion, we’d all be model citizens!

Wine Matches from The Society’s Summer Wine Without Fuss Selections
The only remotely tricky ingredient here is the unripe northern-European tomato. The added sugar and purée do much to neutralise acidity, but it always pays with tomatoes to think fruit rather than vegetable and to look for plenty in the glass, avoiding anything very dry. There’s plenty of inspiration here, from southern France and Italy: try Vermentino Sicilia Mandrarossa in the Buyers’ Everyday White Selection and Corbières Le Blanc Paysan, Castelmaure (Premium Whites), ever-dependable Bricco Rosso Suagnà, Langhe Rosso 2009.

Spain scores with Vinlara Tempranillo, Ribera del Duero 2012 (Buyers’ Everyday Reds) as does the Cape, with the chenin-driven Curator white (Buyers’ Everyday Whites) and the luscious red berries of Boschendal 1685 Merlot Coastal 2012 (Premium Reds). Grignan les Adhémar Rouge Secret de Terroir, Domaine de Montine 2012 (Premium Reds) and the aristocratic Montpeyroux La Pimpanela, Domaine La Jasse-Castel 2011 (Buyers’ French Classic Reds – the 2011 is still available on our website) are a treat, especially with that soukh-spiced lamb option, and Pinot Blanc, Domaine Ginglinger 2012 (Buyers’ French Classic Whites) is the surprise match.

Food Without Fuss Green Bean and Tomato SaladZEYTINAGLI AYSE KADIN FASULYE
Green Bean and Tomato Salad

Serves 4 as part of a meze course, or an accompanying vegetable for lamb or chicken

Fresh green beans (fasulye) are a seasonal Turkish summer staple. Strictly speaking, AySe Kadin are string or Kenya beans but I prefer to use home-grown stick or runner beans in season which are all the better for a good, leisurely simmering. As a nation, we’ve become used to preferring our veggies al dente, but it’s precisely the softness and sweetness of the beans that makes this so delicious, so don’t be tempted to rush them.

• 500g fresh green beans
• 4 tbs olive oil
• 1 large onion, finely chopped
• 1 large tomato, peeled and chopped
• A pinch of sugar
• Salt
• 1 tablespoon double-concentrate tomato paste (see below*)

• Top and tail the beans: slice runner beans into thin strips, not lozenges
• Rinse and drain them well.
• Heat the oil and fry the onion until translucent.
• Add the tomato, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently
• Add the beans and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
• Season with the sugar and salt and add half a glass of cold water (about 150ml) into which you have stirred the tomato paste.
• Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer until the liquid has reduced and the beans are very tender**.
• Check the seasoning and serve at room temperature.

* Borrowed from another of Berrin Torolsan’s recipes, and a sure-fire way of making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear of a Benelux tomato.
** Depending on the freshness of the beans this can take the best part of an hour at a slow simmer. Imported Kenya beans take longer. Check from time to time to make sure nothing is sticking or burning, and add a little water if needed.

Janet Wynne Evans

Categories : Wine Without Fuss

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