Tuesday, 3 January 2012


New year, new start and all that - I'm still craving simple dishes after overdosing on carbs at Christmas. And indeed, having signed up to do a 10km race for charity in the spring, now is the time for me to form some sensible eating habits while I teach myself to, you know, run. Further than a bus stop. But, I have no intention of starving myself on lettuce leaves for the next 4 months - I aim to eat as well as usual while subtly tweaking the things I like to eat to cut my fat intake and reduce the carbs, while upping my protein. So panic ye not, I've no intention of turning into a diet bore.

Last night I cooked myself a plate of turlu, a dish I last rustled up some 10 years ago. It's basically a very simple bean stew, originating from Turkey but found around the Balkans too. It's usually made with white haricot beans but I prefer to make it with butter beans, which I think are very underrated. Mixing up my European dishes, I grilled some Spanish chorizo to accompany it.

What you need: 
I small (half-size) tin of butter beans
1 onion, quartered and finely sliced
1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

What to do:
Put a very generous tablespoon of olive oil into a sauteuse and heat on a moderate to hot heat. Add the onions then turn the heat right down to low and let them stew very gently until they are translucent. Add the garlic and continue to stew until the onions are almost breaking up. Meanwhile rinse the beans well to get all the gunk from the tin off them. Add them to the pan, stir them through and add a small mug of water. Turn the heat back up to bring the pan to a simmer then turn it back to low, put a lid on and cook for 20 minutes or so. Halfway through, gently mash up the beans a bit with the back of a wooden spoon. Season to taste.

Cut off a piece of chorizo about 12cm long from the loop and split it in half lengthwise. Heat an iron griddle until it's almost smoking and grill the chorizo for 10 minutes, turning once.

Serve and eat with a green salad.

Cook's tips:
I like a lot of garlic so I'll always put 2 fat cloves in, sometimes 3 - stewing it for so long on a very gentle heat does take a lot of the oomph out it and renders it sweet instead of punchy, but try it with 1 clove first then up it next time if you're brave.