I have fond memories of broad beans from my childhood. They’re the veg that reminds me of sunny summer days in my parents and Papa’s garden. Collecting them by the bag full and sneakily eating them raw, removing them from their fluffy, fleece lined jackets, and not quite knowing if you really love the taste or not.
But am I alone now in my adult days to actually feel like they’re hard work?! Well they’re certainly not fast food. Not only do you have to pod them once but then—according to chefs and recipes—you should take off their outer coat to release the shinny fresh bean beneath. Admittedly though, they do taste so much better like this. Sweeter and a much nicer texture than the broad beans from my childhood which were always boiled and normally arrived alongside whatever Sunday roast we were eating. A bit chewy and a little sadder when not in their fluffy coat.
So what value do they have? Apart from feeling like a very British summer veg, broad beans are actually an excellent vegetable source of protein and fibre. They are also rich in both folate and B vitamins, which we need for nerve and blood cell development, cognitive function and energy. Sounds good. They’re also only really tasty when they’re smaller and fresher so you just have a small window to really enjoy them.
Where to find them? Well, I’m lucky and have a few friends and family who love to grow vegetables. They’re actually one of the easier vegetables to grow yourself, so maybe give it a try. Failing that, good supermarkets should stock them fresh and ideally we’d always recommend trying to find a local greengrocer who source their veg locally and seasonally. At Roots we want to celebrate seasonal and local.
So how do you eat yours? We’d love to know. I think they’re best simply done and I normally always serve mine with it’s best-friend the pea. Mint is also a good accompaniment along with crispy bacon and pecorino.
I’ve chosen a side dish for my recipe. It’s a really fresh and comforting celebration of colour and summer. Its also how I would now serve broad beans to my family. On a Sunday, served with any barbecue or roasted meat and some freshly-picked new potatoes. It would also be delicious over a Parma ham-topped slice of sourdough and maybe a poached egg. Let me know what you think!
- 220g (8oz) shelled broad beans
- 110g (4oz) shelled peas*
- 3 or 4 radishes cleaned
- Salad leaves—I used a mixture of spinach, pea shoots and baby beetroot leaves
- 110g (4oz) ricotta—you can use feta or mozzarella instead
- 2 table spoons olive or avocado oil
- 1 lemon zest and juice
- De-pod the broad beans and peas and boil them for 2–3 minutes until just cooked. Rinse them under cold water or leave in iced water to keep them super fresh. I left some of my beans in their pod as well as I like the taste of both, but that’s up to you. Drain the beans and peas once cold
- Mix ricotta with zest of most of the lemon, a glug of oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Taste until you’re happy. It should be creamy with a hint of lemon and seasoning. If using feta or mozzarella, just leave plain and crumble on top.
- Make dressing by adding 1 tablespoon of oil to a whole lemon squeezed. A teaspoon of our Manuka honey here is a great addition. Add a pinch of chilli flakes and a little seasoning. Mix well. A clean recycled jar is great for this.
- Layer the salad on a plate and then sprinkle all the beans and peas on top. Poor dressing onto salad and mix well. Thinly slice or mandolin the radishes and mix into salad. Finish off with dollops of the ricotta over the peas with a little extra lemon zest and some mint leaves.