Broad beans

When very young and fresh, they’re good raw in salads with shavings of parmesan. Also whizz with olive oil and garlic into a dip, toss into pasta dishes, risottos and or serve as a simple side.

Storage & prep

Will keep for a week

Storage: Broad beans keep well in their pods in the salad drawer at the bottom of the fridge. They should stay fresh for a week, even if the pods wilt a little.

Prep: To get to the beans, split open the pod with your nail, as you would to pod peas. The smallest, youngest beans definitely need only the outer pod removing before cooking. You could ‘double-pod’ larger ones. After boiling, refresh in cold water, then pinch off the skins to reveal the bright green beans inside. It isn’t essential, but if you haven’t eaten broad beans like this before, they will be a revelation. If you’re wondering what to do with broad bean pods, you can compost them, or if they’re tender, boil and purée them.

Cooking tips

Big, fat, beautiful beans. Podding beans has a meditative quality to it (for anything less than a kilo). If it is speed rather than enlightenment that you are after, then split the pile in half and race someone. The loser has to put the pods in the compost bin.

Pod, blanch & skin: Pod the beans and blanch lightly in salted boiling water for about 3 mins, cool immediately in cold water and take a little time to slip them from their skins to reveal the bright green heart. Scatter through any host of salads, toss into pasta dishes, risottos and stews, or eat on their own with a flash of olive oil and parmesan shavings.

Mash & bash: Take some beans as prepared above and mash or blend them into a rough paste. Thin with a little crème fraîche or mascarpone, season well with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon. A fresh herb, like mint or tarragon, will bring it to a new level. Spread onto bruschetta or use as mezze dip.

Slow cook: Although coveted for their fresh verdant appearance, you can slow cook them with a little onion, garlic, wine and stock for an hour or so until soft, tender and dulled to a grey/green. You can even add the sliced pods to the pan if they are young and tender, too. Finish with chopped herbs and a little cured ham or chorizo for a Spanish feel.

Broad bean recipe

Asparagus, broad bean and herb risotto

A light, green risotto that celebrates what's in season in spring. Use pecorino for vegetarians, and add in or substitute peas or French or green beans in place of broad beans if that's what you have in your box. If your broad beans are very small and young you needn't bother with the double podding – although then you miss out on the beautiful bright green colour of the podded beans.

Serves 4 - 40 min

Flavour Friends

Broad beans work well with:

Cheese – feta, goat’s cheese, halloumi, mozzarella, Parmesan, pecorino, ricotta

Starches – bulgur, couscous, gnocchi, pasta, potatoes, rice

Herbs – especially dill, mint, rosemary, summer savory

Lamb

Lemon

Pork – bacon, chorizo, pancetta, prosciutto, Serrano ham, roast pork

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