I’ve mentioned earlier this month that the first broad beans of the season are a real delight for me. I like the fact that you can plant a few beans in October or November and they emerge in the last of the autumnal sun, brush off whatever the winter throws at them, then rapidly grow as the days warm in spring. One single bean brings one plant, but a whole basket of harvested pods and countless beans. They are one of the easiest of crops to grow, only being slightly blighted by black fly and bird attack. I’ve found that overwintering the beans seems to cut down on the black fly attacks, but opens up the possibility of birds like pigeons feasting on the new shoots. So I often use a net to cover the plants in their infancy, and also pinch out the tops of the plants when the beans are formed; which I’m told reduces the chance of the black fly descending. As an ingredient the beans are perhaps at their best when small and sweet, although the larger beans work well when made into purees and we had amazing large dried and fried beans in Peru; a kind of Latin salted peanut.
Broad beans are a great ingredient and often make their way onto our plates. Here are my Favourite Five Broad Bean recipes.
Broad Bean Hummus – Cook 400g of shelled beans in boiling, lightly salted water till tender about 8-10 minutes or so). Drain, cool and pop them out of their slightly grey skin. Whizz with a small sprig of mint in a food processor before pouring in a little lemon juice, and some olive oil as the processor blitzes. Continue to mix until smooth.
Broad Bean, Pea and Mint Tagliatelle – This is perhaps our favourite spring/summer pasta dish. Start by blanching the beans and peas (100g of each shelled). If the beans are young you don’t need to peel off the outer skin, but if older its worth the time. Take half of the beans and peas and whizz in food processor until semi-smooth. Finely chop a garlic clove and soften in some olive oil, add the whizzed pea/bean mix and cook for a minute or so. Add 200ml of double cream and the other half of the beans and peas. Stir in a handful of chopped mint and 75g grated parmesan. Add your choice of cooked pasta to the sauce, serve with a little extra parmesan sprinkled on top.
Broad Bean Falafels – Place 500g podded broad beans in a food processor and whizz; add 1tsp. baking powder, small red onion, 1 clove garlic, handful of chopped coriander, parsley and mint, and 1 tsp. cumin seeds. Blend until smooth, adding a little lemon juice to help it break down. Add a little olive oil and then form into balls. Chill for a few minutes and then fry in oil until crisp, serve in a pitta with hummus and minted yoghurt.
Broad Bean and Chorizo Tapas – Cook the podded broad beans in salted water for 8-10 minutes, drain and peel off greyish skin. Meanwhile, slice a chorizo and fry in a little oil. Add the beans to the chorizo and spicy oil, toss for a few minutes, then add chopped flat leaf parsley.
Broad Bean, Pea and Feta Orzo Salad – Orzo, a delicate grain-shaped pasta, is quick to cook. Whilst it cooks, sauté 2 shallots, lemon zest, and some cooked peas and beans in a bit of butter. Combine the bean and pea mix with the pasta, some chopped feta, and a finely chopped mint. A great summer salad or side dish.
What ways do you use broad beans in your cooking?
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