the taste space

Turkish Cranberry Beans and Tomatoes Simmered in Olive Oil (Barbunya Pilaki)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by janet @ the taste space on November 26, 2010


I could be described as quirky. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

One thing that still baffles most people is that I don’t own a cell phone. I have a landline, but refuse to convert to a cell phone until the reception and reliability have improved. For now, I am content with my landline.

I definitely see advantages to having one of those ‘do everything’ phones. Like when you want to check the ingredients of a recipe you hadn’t planned on making. (You can tell what is important for me, ha!)

When I serendipitously stumbled upon fresh cranberry beans the other week, I couldn’t remember how many I needed. 1 cup? 2 cups? Well, I bought 4 cups just to make sure I wasn’t short. Suffice it to say, the cranberry bean mole with roasted butternut squash only needed 2 cups of beans.

So I searched out other ways to use my creamy fresh cranberry beans. It turns out they are also common in Turkish cuisine, which is one of my favourites. Beans simmered in tomato sauce may sound bland, but I knew it would be anything but if it were a Turkish recipe. I worked with Esra’s recipe at Carte du Jour and modified it slightly to use less oil and added more garlic. Her recipe is fantastic because it includes a lot of possible substitutions.


A plate of beans may not sound that exciting, but I enjoyed them. This was a lighter dish, and while other recipes don’t necessarily add the water during the simmering, it made it a bit more saucy which I enjoyed. It would be nice to try this again without the extra water and without the sugar. Keeping with the Turkish theme, I paired the beans with fine bulgur for a complete meal. I have talked about the nutritional superiority of bulgur compared to brown rice before, and it is incredibly easy to make as well (7 minutes to “cook” in boiling water).  Mixed all together, the sauciness coated the bulgur nicely for a light yet hearty meal.

This is my submission to this round of Blog Bites 9, holiday buffet, potluck-style!

Turkish Cranberry Beans and Tomatoes Simmered in Olive Oil (Barbunya Pilaki)

2 cups fresh cranberry beans (Borlotti beans, Romano beans), or 1 cup dried
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped (1 medium or a handful of baby carrots)
1 tbsp tomato paste
14 oz chopped tomatoes, undrained
1 tsp sugar (could be omitted)
1 1/2 cups hot water
salt, to taste

1. For dried beans, soak overnight change the water and boil until soft. For fresh beans, just boil the beans in enough water to cover by an inch, for 20 minutes or so, until soft.

2. Over medium heat, add olive oil and saute onions and garlic until soft.

3. Add carrots and saute until soft.

4. Add tomato paste, diced tomatoes and cooked beans and stir for 3 minutes.

5. Add the salt, sugar and water. Bring the dish to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 45-60 minutes, until you reach your desired consistency.

6. Garnish with parsley and squeeze lemon juice overtop. I served it cold, mixed with bulgur as a main dish, but it is also served as a side or mezze.

Serves 4.

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10 Responses

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  1. Priya sreeram said, on November 26, 2010 at 7:32 AM

    good one !

  2. Rob said, on November 26, 2010 at 7:39 AM

    Theres nothing wrong with do-everythnig phones… some of are even pretty and colourful!

  3. Rob said, on November 26, 2010 at 8:11 AM

    Also: some people think quirky is great! ;) Who wants to be boring. Blah…

  4. Priya said, on November 27, 2010 at 2:06 PM

    Very nutritious and yummy pilaki.

  5. Susan: My Food Obsession said, on November 29, 2010 at 7:57 AM

    These beans look d’lish… heaps better then the canned versions!

  6. Nupur said, on December 6, 2010 at 8:48 PM

    Just the words cranberry beans are so enticing and then to simmer them in a lovely sauce-mmm. Thanks for the tasty entry!

  7. [...] rolled around and I still have the rice cooker, without having made Tamarind Lentils myself. But lots of rice, mind [...]

  8. Ashley said, on February 1, 2011 at 9:38 PM

    I would be very happy to eat a big bowl of this, though I’d be wary to make a big batch at home as I fear bean heavy dishes!

  9. [...] dish across the Mediterranean and Middle East.  I had my share while travelling in Turkey (and recreated it with beans when I returned) and it is a vegan-friendly option at Greek restaurants. I guess it was no surprise that I really [...]

  10. Lydia said, on November 19, 2014 at 6:22 AM

    I just want to kindly inform you that this dish is completely Hellenic(Greek) and not Turkish. Even if they have it among their traditional dishes in Turkey, it has originated (and is still well loved) in Hellas(Greece). The name barbunya pilaki is hellenic as well (μπαρμπούνια(a kind of beans) πλακί) and Turkey has borrowed that as well, to keep its originality I would guess. All the while, good recipe.


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