Sunday, November 20, 2011

Broad beans cornucopia

This year, the broad beans have been going gangbusters--not the case last year and the year before, when they really struggled. Hard to know why it's happened--it rained as much last year as this, and the weather patterns don't seem different--but anyway, that's the way it is. So we've been eating lots of them, struggling to keep up with the fat pods as they just keep going on and on. I used to hate broad beans as a kid, having been subjected once to a nasty broad bean soup made of beans much too big to be any good really; but now I love them; fresh out of the garden, and small, they are tender, subtle delights.
We've been making all sorts of different things with them: delicious hot vegetable dishes or warm salads, with the beans simply podded then sauteed in butter and a little olive oil, with garlic and herbs; or with tomatoes, or a splash of wine, or crispy bacon (as illustrated) or whatever. They can be cooked using European flavours, or Asian ones, or anything, really. You can have them cold in this way too. Double-peeled(podded first, then cooked, then the toughish outer skin peeled off as well), the beans can also be mashed and mixed with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and a smidgeon of sour cream to make a yummy broad bean guacamole, which is delicious spread on toast. You can also make soup out of them, cook them and preserve in oil, and we've even dried sun-drying them and rolling them in a chilli mixture, rather like wasabi peas(mind you, not sure how that will work out yet!) Thing is, there are umpteen wonderful ways to use them before they get too big to be of any good.

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