DRAGON BEAN PLAKI
Plaki is an Armenian, Turkish, and Greek word for a stew that can be eaten warm or cold. Typically, a bean plaki is made with giant white lima beans called gigantes. The beans are first cooked and then stewed in a fresh tomato sauce until the tomato coats the beans like a thick dressing or glaze. In the summer, my husband, farmer Chris Kurth, grows amazing fresh wax beans called dragon’s tongue. These are wide, flat, juicy, and speckled with purple spots. They are similar in shape to Romano beans, which are a fine substitute. I like to make plaki with fresh beans and add other vegetables like corn and sweet peppers. Variations of plaki are served warm or cold as a meze on the menus at Sofra, Oleana, and our third restaurant, Sarma. When corn and dragon’s tongue beans are not in season, we use cooked gigantes or Peruvian limas and make the traditional version. You’ll want to make a big batch of this to have on hand for the week. Simply serve with a chunk of feta and it’s a perfect quick meal.
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small summer onion, such as Ailsa Craig or Vidalia, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and diced small
1 small (or half of 1 large) green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced small
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
3 cups dragon’s tongue beans or other wax beans, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
3 cups fresh, in-season sweet corn kernels (from about 3 cobs)
6 plum tomatoes, halved
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or tarragon leaves
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place a large deep-sided sauté pan over medium-low heat and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onion, carrot, and bell pepper and sauté until they begin to soften and the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, beans, and corn and continue to cook until they start to soften, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, using your fingers, scrape as many seeds out of the cavities of the tomato as you can without being too fussy. Over a mixing bowl, use the large holes of a box grater to grate the tomatoes (holding the cut side of the tomato to the grater) until you have nothing but skin left in your hand and the flesh of the tomato is in the bowl. Stir the grated tomatoes into the corn mixture and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the tomato paste, and the bay leaf.
Cook until the mixture has thickened and become jamlike, about 20 minutes on low heat. The tomato sauce should coat and cling to the beans and the corn. Pour the plaki into a large mixing bowl and cool to room temperature.
Remove the bay leaf and stir in the dill, vinegar, and lemon juice and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature or cold. This salad can easily be made a day or two before serving; the flavors become better overnight. Store it covered in the refrigerator up to 4 days.
Copyright © 2016 by Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.