Piyaz is a classic Turkish white bean salad that appears on our table whenever it becomes heavily carnivorous, especially when we make kababs. It goes great as an accompaniment to meats, but it can easily become a part of a light lunch or dinner.
In piyaz, white beans are first boiled until they are tender, then combined with an array of fresh vegetables and herbs and dressed with olive oil and either lemon juice or vinegar. Some recipes call for soaking the cooked beans in vinegar for a few hours, then draining and tossing them with the rest of ingredients. But personally, I am not a big fan of this method as the beans become too acidic after long soaking. I prefer to control the amount of acidity to my liking.
One note. If you don’t like the taste of raw onions in a salad (I know a few people who don’t), breathe a sigh of relief, for in piyaz the onions are stripped off their bitterness and pungent taste as they are first rubbed with salt, then rinsed off, and squeezed dry. In his way the onion becomes surprisingly mellow with a tad note of sweetness.
Finally, the eye-pleasing effect comes into play when the salad is garnished with wedges of hard-boiled eggs and black olives and when the eggs are sprinkled with either sumac or paprika. A feast for the eye and, later, for the palate, too! Enjoy!
Turkish White Bean Salad (Fasulye Piyazi)
Note 1: This is one way to make piyaz. But there are many others, hailing from various regions of Turkey.
Note 2: You can adjust the amount of herbs, tomatoes, peppers, and dressing to your liking.
Serves about 4
1 1/2 cups dried white kidney beans (Cannelloni beans or Great Nothern beans), presoaked in water overnight
1 medium onion, cut in half lengthwise, then thinly sliced
Generous cup of fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup of more, to taste, olive oil
Freshly squeezed lemon juice or red or white wine vinegar, to taste
Ground black pepper
1 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut into quarters
Few black olives, to garnish
Paprika or sumac powder*, to sprinkle on eggs (optional)
1. Drain the beans. Place them in a pot filled with water. Boil until tender (but not mushy!), about 1 hour. Drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
2. Put the onions in a small mixing bowl. Sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon salt. Gently squeeze with your hands until the onions release their juices and are soft. Rinse off the salt and squeeze the onions dry. Add the onions to the beans.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the beans, too, except the eggs, olive and paprika. Toss to combine.
4. Place on a serving platter. Decorate with the egg wedges and olives. Sprinkle the eggs with paprika or sumac.
* Sumac powder is the ground berries of a sumac bush. It is dark red, almost burgundy in color and has a tangy taste. Available in most Middle Eastern/Persian/Turkish grocery stores.