Sunday, June 20, 2010

Meze - Tuku's Green Beans in Olive Oil

Olive Trees are in abundance on both sides of the Aegean sea, I think this is enough of an explanation for the variety of vegetable dishes in Turkish cuisine that are prepared using olive oil.  Almost all the vegetable can be cooked in olive oil using a basic recipe with minimal variations and the results are always scrumptious.  Olive oil dishes are one of the main categories of Turkish cooking. 

Turkey is a true mosaic of different cultures and civilizations, our own family is a perfect example of the different types of backgrounds that are inherent in our culture.  While my parents are both from Southeastern Anatolia, my husband's father was from Drama, a small town in today's Macedonia and  his mother's family was from Crete.
Although I didn't get a chance to meet her, my mother-in-laws mother was reportedly an excellent cook of all the 'Zeytinyagli' (olive oil dishes) and Tuku, our dear aunt, who lived with her had the privilege of learning her way of making these particularly Aegean dishes.  Tuku was one of the only women I know who had learnt to cook with measurements and basically, it is thanks to her that I started to cook any decent 'Zeytinyagli' dishes at all.  

The basic recipe I learnt from Tuku is as follows - for every kilogram of fresh vegetable, use 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1-2 onions, 1 tablespoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of sugar, about 1 cup of warm water and then you can add tomatoes or rice or lemon according to the vegetable you are cooking.  After all the ingredients are combined as they are suppose to be, you cook it on high until it starts to boil and then turn the heat down and let it simmer for an hour.  You are suppose to let the vegetable cool in its own pot before removing it to a serving dish.  All the olive oil dishes are served cool, with a little drizzle of olive oil on top, to make it look shiny.  

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