Braised borlotti beans – Barbunya Pilaki



Pilaki is a style of Turkish mezze, where vegetables and beans are cooked with a base of onions, garlic, tomato in olive oil. This classic Turkish dish slow cooks borlotti beans in a tomato base until softened and creamy, served with lemon and herbs for a fresh kick. I use fresh tomatoes here but tin tomatoes can also be used if you can’t get hold of any fresh in season. This is so delicious on it’s own or served with a side of bread. It also works beautifully as part of a mezze selection with rice, yoghurt, dips and a fresh herb salad.


Serves 2 or 4 as a side


100ml olive oil

1 red onion, finely sliced

2 medium carrots, finely sliced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tbsp tomato paste

4 large tomatoes, diced

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 cup/250ml vegetable stock

3 sprigs of oregano leaves

3 sprigs thyme

2x cans borlotti beans or 350g dried*

1 lemon


1. Heat a deep frying pan over a medium heat with the olive oil. Add the onions and carrot with a big pinch of salt and cook until starting to soften, 8 mins. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, then add the fresh tomatoes, cooking for 5 minutes until the start to break down and release their juices.

2. Add the herbs, canned tomatoes, beans and veg stock until the beans are covered with liquid.

2. Simmer for 30-35 minutes until the beans are soft and the sauce has reduced and thickened.

3. Taste and season generously with salt and pepper. Add half the lemon juice, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve with the remaining lemon wedges on the side.


*If using dry beans, place in a container and cover with cold water. Leave overnight to soak. Drain off the water then transfer the beans to a deep saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 45 minutes until cooked but still have a bite.




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