We grow broad beans every year. Broad (or fava) beans are another childhood memory. We’d pick them on sunny winter afternoons and then shell them in front of the fire for supper. This year’s crop was not great. Thanks to the dearth of rain and water.
Ever since I lived on my own and had a patch of ground, I have grown vegetables (or tried). The Husband happily tells friends that when he met me, I had a tiny terrace cottage with an equally tiny back garden. In it he discovered a couple of enormous tomato plants among the ornamentals. I have yet to loose an almost childlike excitement at the first season’s picking or pulling of any bounty that privileges our garden. Then I set to thinking about what I’m going to do with it. Usually, the first pickings are the sweetest and most tender so they get the least “treatment”. So it always is with our first broad beans: lightly boiled (not to death like my English mother would have cooked them) and as an accompaniment to supper. However, that gets really boring …
So, in addition to that way, I also use them in salads: blanch the beans and pop them out of their grey skins and toss the beautiful, bright green cotyledons into the salad. This salad, in addition to the broad beans, and as the flavours seem to work well together included mint and chives, as well as pepino. For a little extra colour, a scattering of calendula petals topped it off.
I have mentioned my love affair with Katie Caldesi’s Italian Cookery Course, and in it, discovered a traditional Italian dip made with broad beans and mint. I had never thought of including mint with broad beans. Mint is for peas – or so I had been brought up to think (by that same English mother….). Anyway, I looked at the recipe and gave it a bash. Essentially, it’s broad beans (popped out of their skins if they’re big (I didn’t with this batch as they were still tiny), mint, finely grated Parmesan cheese, garlic leaves (or a small clove if you don’t have the leaves). Whizz or pulse together into a paste. Serve on crostini drizzled with olive oil.
We enjoyed that dip so much, that I now make it quite often. I have also used the basic idea, to make a rustic pesto with home made pasta.
You will find the recipe here.
This has been updated from the original, first saw the light of day on my first blog in 2014. Some already appear on this site, others don’t. Part of the update process is including downloadable copies of the recipes I write about.
Until next time
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa
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