Another sign of spring here in Selçuk is the arrival of bakla on the market. Bakla are broad beans but, this time of year, you don’t get big seeds in the pods. The inside beans are tiny and tender and you eat the entire thing. Like runner beans. They are a very Aegean thing. And wonderfully easy to cook to deliciousness.
This is how I do it: Take half a kilo of bakla and remove the tops, tails and any dodgy-looking bits. Break them in half or, if very long, three bits. You don’t even really need a knife for this. Then take a medium sized onion and cut it piyazlık (I nearly always cut onions this way for zeytinyağlı dishes, in thin, longitudinal half moonish strips). And some garlic (depending how much you like) cut in thin slices or strips. Put lots of good olive oil in a sauté or frying pan with a cover and warm it up before softening the onions, then the garlic. Add in the bakla and stir it round for a bit. About half cover it with water (I used a mugful), add a sugar cube and salt if you like it (I don’t). Bring to the boil and, now for my secret ingredient…
The rinsed peel of about a quarter of a preserved lemon. I’ve not found a place to buy them here and I’ve not really looked. I make my own. This is not traditional and certainly not essential. Turn it all down to a simmer, cover it and leave it on a low light till well done. 30-40 minutes. Longer doesn’t hurt as long as it doesn’t fall apart. Towards the end, throw in some chopped dill.
As with all zeytinyağlı, it keeps well in the fridge and improves for the first couple of days.