Today I come to you with a true Mediterranean-Style dish. If I were to translate from its original Turkish name, it would be Green Beans made with Olive Oil. Even though I thought about naming it that way, for some reason it sounded more relatable when I called it the Mediterranean-Style Green Beans.
So what makes this dish Mediterranean?
I am sure there is a scientific or historical answer to this question if you were to ask it to a culinary historian. But for someone like me, who spent all her childhood years in a Mediterranean country, this dish is the epitome of how we ate during the hot and long summer days of Turkey. If you have been around that part of the world, you would know that during the summer months it gets so hot that most people prefer not to eat dishes that are served warm. Instead, they prefer lighter, refreshing dishes that can also be served cold. And I bet you money, during this time of the year if you were to randomly pick a house in the Mediterranean region and look into their fridge, you would find a version of this dish.
The best part about this recipe is that it is a great starter recipe. Because if you follow the same technique, you can make similar dishes using other vegetables like zucchinis, celery roots, leeks, etc. that are in abundance during the summer months. In addition, I love the fact that you really do not need to do so much other than chopping everything and putting them in the pan.
The secret ingredient in this recipe, which- in my opinion- is the reason why it tastes so good, is sugar. A couple of teaspoons of sugar you add at the beginning bring out the sweetness of the vegetable while masking the tanginess that you would experience if you were to not add sugar. Last but not least, I highly recommend serving it with some garlic yogurt flavored with fresh dill to truly experience the Mediterranean- Style way of eating.
Mediterranean-Style Green Beans
For the Green Beans:
- 2 pounds green beans
- 2 + 1 medium sized onion, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 14 ounces can tomatoes, diced
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 3-4 teaspoons granulated sugar
- ¼ cup drinking water
- a couple of sprigs of fresh dill
For the Yogurt Sauce:
- 3 cloves of garlic, pressed through a garlic press or minced finely
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- ¾ teaspoons salt
- Trim both ends of green beans by cutting them ¼- ½ inches. Wash under running water, drain, and set aside.
- Finely chop 2 of the onions. Peel the other one and leave it as a whole.
- Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven (or any heavy bottom pan) in medium heat.
- Add in the onion, and stirring occasionally, cook until translucent, 5-6 minutes.
- Stir in the paste, diced tomatoes, salt, black pepper, sugar, and water.
- Add in the green beans. Give it a gentle stir making sure everything is homogenously distributed in the pan.
- Place the reserved one onion on the top and put the lid on. Let it come to a boil and turn down to heat to medium-low and cook until the beans are tender, 35-45 minutes. Make sure to give it a gentle stir a couple of times during the cooking process.
- To make the yogurt sauce: Whisk everything in a bowl, taste for seasoning, and add if necessary.
- To serve: Place the green beans on a plate and top it off with yogurt sauce and some fresh dill.