How to: cook with broad beans
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Cast yourself back a thousand years and the humble broad bean could have made you king of France for the day!
In medieval France, New Year was celebrated with a galette de rois, a cake of almond meal and pastry in which a single broad bean was hidden. Find the bean in your slice of cake and you could force the village to its knees – at least til midnight. These days the tradition is continued in the collection of beautifully painted and decorated broadbean-shaped ceramic collectibles called fèves, French for fava bean. We don’t have quite the same reverence for broad beans, but they are still one of the treats of late winter and early spring.
The trick to turning broad beans into something special is to peel them twice. First take the pale green beans out of the fleece-lined pods. Simmer the beans in boiling water until they are tender, about 3 minutes, depending on the size and age of the bean. Run them under cold water and when cool enough to handle squeeze them out of their jade coats. The bright green beans inside are tender and delicious. This second peeling isn’t necessary if the beans are very young, but it does make for a beautiful colour!
Smashed broad bean dip
Put the cooked pods from 500g raw broad beans into a food processor with a teaspoon of cumin, the juice of half a lemon and a splash of hot water. Whiz to a paste, then add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Adjust seasoning and add more water if you need a looser dip. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sumac and top with chopped parsley before serving.
- add a chunk of feta or a heaped tablespoon of fresh ricotta or goats curd to the mix and leave out the cumin.
- add a crushed clove of garlic and serve with sourdough bread that has been rubbed with oil and garlic and grilled until crisp and fragrant
- serve the dip on buschetta, topped with a butterflied barbecued prawn, a slice of prosciutto, or an oven-roasted tomato.