One of the things about veggie gardening is that we frequently end up with an abundance of one particular vegetable. Add to that Léo being born as the first of the spring veggies matured and maybe then you can imagine just how many broad beans (aka: fava beans) I have on my hands. To make things a little more challenging, I’ve never before cooked with broad beans. I’m on a steep learning curve but that’s half the fun right?
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
- Harvest the pods when they’re 10-15 cm long. Any bigger and the bright green beans fade to white and lose their flavour in the process.
- The size of the pile of pods is misleading! A kilo of pods will yield 250gms of double peeled beans.
- Though it’s not a necessity, the time and effort required to ‘double-peel’ the beans is well worth it as the outer skin can be tough, starchy and bitter.
Here’s how. First open the pod and remove the beans by breaking the top and pulling the string down the side. Blanch the beans in boiling water for 30 seconds then dunk them in ice water for 1 minute to stop the cooking process. Use your fingernail to slice the outer skin and expel the beautiful bright green bean within. If double-peeling, blanching is all the cooking required. Too much hard work? Pick the beans earlier at 8-10cm. Personally, I like to give in to the tranquil monotony of the task, savouring the crunchy sounds and soft smooth textures.
What do you do with a bounty of broad beans? Dips, pastas, risottos, salads, stews. Being native to North Africa and the Mediterranean they match well with garlic, lemon, olive oil and fresh herbs such as parsley, mint, chives, dill and basil. They’re also good with salty cheeses such as feta or pecorino. Ultimately, there are only so many of the little green gems you can eat and since I don’t want to overdose, I’ve been searching out preservation methods. Easiest way is to freeze them, then you can add them into any dish just as you please.
All week I’ve been throwing fresh beans into salads but a hankering for poached eggs gave me the idea for a smash. Crunchy beans, smooth avo, salty feta, fresh mint and a bite of chilli. Scrumptious. Serve it on a thick slice of sourdough for a snack or add some poached eggs for a fab brunch.
What do you do with your favas?
Broad Bean, Avocado & Chilli Smash
Makes approx 300gms
130gms broad beans
1 small avocado
6 mint leaves
Pinch of chilli flakes
Pinch of salt & pepper
Juice of half a small lemon
1. Add all the ingredients to a food processor and blend until the avocado and feta are well mixed but the broad beans remain a little chunky. (Thermomix: 10secs/speed5)
2. Add half the lemon juice. Mix. Taste. Add remainder if desired.
Here are a few other recipes I’d like to try.
Grilled fava beans
Corn and fava bean succotash
Spring fava bean and fennel salad
Traditional Egyptian Fava Bean Stew
Peppered Capellini with fava beans, peas and pecorino