We’ve gone a bit bonkers with the bean planting on the allotment this year. I have some runner beans of the firestorm variety which yield the vibrant red edible flowers which I am looking forward to almost more than the beans. I have various varieties of dwarf beans because I’ve discovered they grow quite happily in my windowbox with a few blunt pencils as support poles. The girls are competing as to which will appear first. And finally some broad beans.
A little late to the planting party
My beans have only just gone in. If I had been more organised I would have popped them in last October and then I’d have a lovely crop about now to munch on while weeding. My late crop will get eaten as close to raw as possible because these beans are high in protein and also vitamin C. We will pick them early and eat the whole pod as leaving them longer is not an option for we have terrible blackfly.
Dried is just as delicious
A staple in our cupboard is the dried broad bean – or fava bean. If you buy the split variety, there is no need for soaking and in some simple stock or even just salted water, the beans will boil up in about 30 minutes. Some quick ideas:
- Drain the water away, whizz them up into a purée and season with salt, pepper and garlic and use as a dip or a base for grilled fish.
- Blend together with the cooking stock, season with salt and roasted cumin then top with a drizzle of olive oil and chilli flakes for a hearty soup. You could throw some mussels and parsley into this for something a bit more substantial.
- Mash the beans coarsely together, mix in some finely chopped spinach, seasoning, a beaten egg and then shape into little patties for frying. Perfect with some tzatziki and strips of cucumber in a flatbread wrap.
For some reason raw or lightly cooked broad beans work really well with creamy cheese like ricotta, feta, mozzarella and burrata. I have pinned much inspiration on my Pinterest board but this one is my current favourite.
Bessara with Feta and Fresh Broad Beans
Bessara is a classic Moroccan dish I first ate in Fez. We were wandering around the medina and I could smell this beany broth. Our guide showed us into a tiny wardrobe of a stall and we ate til we were full for about £1. Bessara can be served as a dip or a soup. I’ve kept it as a dip and topped with some creamy feta and fresh broad beans.
- 250g dried split broad beans/fava beans
- 2 large cloves of garlic
- salt to your taste
- 2-3 tsp ground cumin
- 4-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 100g feta cheese
- 200g broad beans
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs – mint or Greek basil work nicely
To make it
- Boil the dried beans until they are just cooked. Depending on how old your beans are this will take between 30-45 minutes. Do not salt the water as it will make the beans tough. They should mash easily when cooked.
- Purée the beans with the garlic until there are no lumps. Adjust the thickness of the purée to your liking using a little warm water.
- Add the ground cumin and season with salt as you wish.
- Spoon the mixture into your serving bowl and then drizzle over the olive oil, crumble over the feta and broad beans and then finally sprinkle the herbs over the top.
How does that sound? If you fancy something a little more substantial, add a fillet of grilled fish on top – cumin roasted mackerel or cod work well.