Culinary Anthropologist

Green bean zeytinyağlı


I learnt this dish while staying with Zeliha İrez, an amazing cook who runs a guesthouse in Turkey.  Zeliha uses a pressure cooker to speed things up.  If you don’t have one, try to leave the beans gently cooking for five or more hours. 

Zeytinyağlı foods are a family of vegetable dishes which are cooked in olive oil.  They are common in western Turkey, where olive trees grow.  The beauty of the dish is that everything goes in the pot together and then requires little attention.


Recipe:  Green bean zeytinyagli.pdf

Serves:  8-10 people as a side dish or starter

1kg flat green beans, topped and sliced in 1-2” lengths, on the diagonal
1 big onion, finely chopped
2 big tomatoes, halved and grated (skins discarded)
6 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 tsp salt
1¼ tsps sugar
90ml good olive oil (one full Turkish tea glass)
lemon juice to finish

  1. Put all ingredients except lemon juice in a heavy saucepan or pot with a lid.  Mix and cook over the lowest heat possible, stirring occasionally, until soft, reduced and luxurious.  The longer and slower you cook them the better.  Anything from one to 7 hours is good, depending on how low your burner goes.  
  2. Let beans cool in their juices.  NB If they seem too watery when you finish cooking them, you can cook uncovered for a while longer to reduce the sauce, and/or remove the beans and reduce the sauce separately, then return beans to the pot to cool. They will be even more delicious the next day, served room temperature.  Squeeze over some lemon juice if you think the flavour needs brightening.


  1. melrose

    I am really big big fan of Turkish cuisine, lovely site you have there! I have just discovered it:), and we share interest in food anthropology and cooking (I have also changed career and become a professional chef). Greetings from Germany!

  2. Anna

    Hi Melrose. Thank you! Yes, Turkish cuisine has to be one of the best in the world. I love your website too. Good luck with everything. Anna

  3. melrose

    Thanks for your mail:)
    The language in which I write my blog is Serbo-Croatian…You can use Google translator to get the picture of what is written.
    Unfortunately I am naturaly lazy, and therefore translate my posts relly seldomly in English. I promisse I’ll try to write bilingual from my next post on:)