Thursday, December 6, 2012

Green broad bean bounty

Before my neighbour with the brilliant garden went away last week, she brought me some broad beans and invited me to help myself to more. I was over there first thing next day.

I used to think I didn't like broad beans, but that was because I'd only ever had them when they were older and tougher and still enveloped in their wrinkly grey outer skins. Then Lesley showed me how to ease out the little bright green inner beans, and I was hooked. But they're hard to buy young enough to be really good - much better to be able to get them fresh from the plants, before they get too enormous. The way we humans eat them is of course terribly wasteful, because only the very youngest, tenderest beans can be eaten still in their pods. I did manage to do a few this way, boiling them briefly, but most of the pods were steamed in a colander for a few minutes, then opened, and the beans extracted. I ended up with a huge pile of pods and a small bowl of beans.

I shucked the largest beans from their slightly wrinkled skins, but I couldn't bear the waste of all that green goodness. So I kept the outer skins and pureed them later with lemon juice, oil and salt to make a flavourful dip, and left the rest of them intact.

I was having two friends over for a Good Dinner that night, and I wanted to do as little as possible to my beans. So I made a simple first course - skinny asparagus wrapped in very thin slices of Serrano ham, and a little pile of beans with torn basil and grated pecorino cheese, plus a wedge of lemon and drizzle of excellent olive oil (from Moon over Martinborough, one of the best goodies we were given at the food bloggers' conference - I'd been hoarding it for the right occasion) with some good bread to mop it all up. The beans, like the asparagus, were warm, so the thin flakes of cheese melted into them, and then they melted into us.


  1. Oh, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?

    What did you make for the main course, to follow this delicious first course? And for pudding? Or maybe this was one of your shared dinners, and your friends brought lovely things...

    My mother used to cook broad beans until they were old and grey - and inedible. But now I love them too.

  2. This is the kind of comment that makes me rush to answer it! Well, I found a lean leg of Pride of the South lamb (for $23) and cooked it with Julia Child's mustard coating (in The Taste of Home post - click on lamb). Tiny new Jersey Bennie potatoes, baked tomatoes, roasted peppers and carrots (we'd had the greens for the first course so I kept this one red, orange and yellow). One friend provided three cheeses (Double Gloucester, Roquefort and another delicious white-rinded one I missed the name of). He also brought a 1999 Goldwater Merlot (helping him drink up his crowded cellar is one of my greatest pleasures) to have with the lamb and the cheese. Oh yes. The other friend brought a classic rice pudding with a puree of Wanaka dried apricots (as you can see, we had a South island theme going here). Spero che ti soddisfa!

    1. Thanks to your reply, I cooked the lamb with Julia Child's mustard coating for a family dinner on Wednesday night - it was lovely! I also did little new potatoes rather than roasting them, fresh peas and some roasted tomatoes.
      Thank you for the inspiration, Anne!

  3. My pleasure - it's so good to hear about one of the recipes I've posted turning out well.

  4. I too am a recent convert to the joy of a Broad Bean. What poor maligned things they were! Your starter sounds divine! I have a crop of beans growing, just right for this. Thanks Anne and Merry Christmas!

  5. Merry Christmas to you too, Lucy. Have a look at my new Facebook page, Anne Else Food Memoir.


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