broad beans

Broad beans in the market signal that spring is here. Unlike other vegetables, which are available all year round, broad beans have a distinct season. So buy them now, before they disappear again. They look like giant green puffy pods, much bigger than other beans. When these pods are small, you can eat them whole. Enjoy this special treat by planting your own, as they’re easy to grow. The broad beans in the markets are usually quite large. The pods need to be peeled to reveal the beans. When the beans are small they can be eaten with their skins still on, but I prefer to peel them again. This is known as double podding. It’s quite simple to do; bring a pot of water to the boil, add the beans and cook for 1-2 minutes, then remove. The skins will slip off easily, revealing beautiful emerald green pods, sweet and juicy.

When they’re not in season, you can still buy frozen beans, already podded, from the supermarket. I have also been able to buy frozen broad beans which have been double podded, in my local asian grocery. Whilst not quite as charming as podding your own, it’s certainly quicker, when you’re short for time.

Why not try these delicious recipes to enjoy this delicate seasonal treat.

Smashed broad beans and baby peas on bruschetta with ricotta and mint.

A rustic snack that’s perfect for a light lunch. Use a mortar and pestle for a rough paste or a food processor for a smoother consistency.

1 crusty sourdough loaf

1 clove garlic, peeled

extra virgin olive oil to drizzle

1 kg fresh broad beans (300g podded beans)

1 cup frozen baby peas, thawed

1 tbs olive oil

salt and pepper

120g fresh ricotta from the deli

few leaves of mint

Slice the sourdough thickly and toast or grill. While these are still hot, rub with the garlic and drizzle with a little oil.

Remove the broad beans from their outer shells. Bring a pot of water to the boil, add broad beans and cook for a couple of minutes until soft. Remove and drain. Peel off the outer pod and set aside. Roughly mash the broad beans with peas and oil in a mortar and pestle. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pile onto toast with a dollop of ricotta on top and sprinkle with some finely chopped mint.

serves 4.

Broad bean ‘felafel’ fritters with minted yoghurt

Felafel are usually made with a  mix of dried broad beans and chickpeas. Here, I have used fresh broad beans and tinned chickpeas. You could also make them into small ball shapes and deep fry.

1 kg fresh broad beans

400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 cup loosely packed fresh coriander leaves

1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1 red chilli, seeded and sliced

½ (half) lemon, zest and juice

½ (half) cup plain flour for dusting

vegetable oil for frying

1 cup plain yoghurt

2 tbs shredded mint leaves

Remove the broad beans from their outer shells. Bring a pot of water to the boil, add broad beans and cook for a couple of minutes until soft. Remove and drain. Peel off the outer pod and set aside.

Place the beans and chickpeas in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add coriander, mint, salt and pepper, spices, lemon zest and pulse until finely chopped.

Use your hands to shape the mixture into 10 -12 small patties, then lightly dust with flour to coat.

Heat oil in a large frypan and cook the fritters on both sides until lightly browned.

Drain on paper towel and set aside.

Mix yoghurt with mint leaves and serve alongside the fritters.

make 10-12.

Spring salad of broad beans, asparagus, prawns and citrus

This simple salad would be lovely as a light lunch or smart entree.

I kg fresh broad beans

2 bunches fresh asparagus spears

olive oil to drizzle

salt and pepper to season

24 green prawns, peeled, with tails on

1 orange, segmented, juice reserved

1 pink grapefruit, segmented, juice reserved

1 tangelo, segmented, juice reserved

Remove the broad beans from their outer shells. Bring a pot of water to the boil, add broad beans and cook for a couple of minutes until soft. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain. Peel off the outer pod and set aside.

Trim asparagus and cut into 3 cm lengths. Use the same pot of boiling water to cook these for a minute or two until just tender. Drain, then place in a bowl with the broad beans, drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Heat a grill or non stick pan, add oil and quickly cook the prawns on both sides. Toss into the bowl with beans and asparagus.

Add citrus segments and a little reserved juice.

Check seasoning and adjust if necessary. Add salad leaves and gently toss.

Pile onto plates and serve.

serves 4.

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3 Responses

  1. Yum, I love broadbeans!

  2. I would really like to know what supermarket you found podded broad beans in, they would be such a time saver and I haven’t seen any.

    • Hi Brenda
      I hope you’re in Melbourne. There’s a little asian supermarket called Minh Phat in Nicholson St Abbotsford, just off Victoria St. It’s worth the drive, not to have to double pod!
      regards
      Caroline.

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