Have you ever noticed that broad beans seem to arrive in a mountainous pile in your veg box, 5 weeks in a row, and then disappear for a year?
I didn't grow up growing broad beans and my mum, quite rightly, assumed her kids wouldn't eat them. So I'm one of the many who wasn't sure what to do with them.
In fact, a survey we did in June 2006 showed that up to 25% of veg box users consider broad beans to be an unusual vegetable and aren't sure how to prepare them!
- Broad beans taste sweeter in the early part of the season, when the pods are relatively small and the skins are soft.
Later in the season, the beans will have developed a tougher, more bitter skin. You might want to skin the individual beans.
Choose pods that feel firm and are undamaged.
- Store the pods in a cool, dry place for 2-3 days.
They will keep longer in the fridge, but they take up a huge amount of space. The flavour deteriorates after a few days.
Podded or skinned beans don't store for very long.
However, you can freeze them. Blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain well and freeze in bags.
- You can eat the whole beans (out of their pods) or skin the individual beans.
For a quick and simple side dish, try cooking the beans as described below. Drain them and then gently heat with some olive oil and chopped, fresh herbs (e.g. thyme or sage).
More Broad Beans InformationBroad beans are also known as fava beans. In the UK, we usually use them fresh, but they can also be dried and then used as pulses.
They are one of the most common garden vegetables in the UK.
They're easy to grow and are one of the most ancient cultivated crops, with records going back to before 6000 BC.
They are commonly found in Middle Eastern, Italian and Greek cooking.
In Italian villages, it's still common to see women sitting with their friends, skinning an enormous bowl full of beans. It's a long job, so you can understand why they want company!
Podded Broad BeansCrack open the top of the pod and push out the beans.
Cook them in boiling water for 5-8 minutes, depending how much crunch you like.
The later in the season you get your beans, the thicker the skins are, so they'll need to cook for longer.
|Skinned Broad Beans|
|If your broad beans are more mature and larger, then you might want to pod them and then skin them. This leaves delicious, sweet, delicately-flavoured beans.|
- Asparagus & Broad Bean Salad
Asparagus and broad bean salad works best with early-season broad beans, so you don't have to remove the skins of the beans. The addition of a poached egg turns these simple springtime ingredients into a delicious meal.
- Beetroot and Fennel Salad With Sage Croutons
This recipe combines raw fennel and beetroot with freshly cooked sage croutons, halloumi cheese and an orange dressing, to make a deliciously crunchy summer salad.
- Broad Bean Couscous
This couscous is delicious and packed with protein and superfoods. A great way to boost your immune system!
- Broad Bean Risotto
This recipe is easy to do, and takes about ½ hour. Though you have to be patient if you're skinning the individual beans.
- Broad Bean Salad with Manchego and Mint
This recipe is from "The Seasoned Vegetarian"(we LOVE the title!) by Simon Rimmer, and is reproduced here with thanks to Simon and Octopus Books.
- Broad Beans Quinoa
This is a delicious recipe for both broad beans and quinoa. It takes less than 15 minutes to make and works well as a delicious lunch or a summer party dish.
- Broad Beans Rice Salad
This rice salad is spiced up with early summer veggies - fresh tomatoes, broad beans and extra nutrients from kidney beans. The optional dressing adds to the nutty flavour of the brown rice and the whole thing takes just 20 minutes! If you don't fancy a lemon dressing, you can mix in Cheddar cheese instead!
- Broad Beans Salad
This is an unusual way of serving broad beans, but makes a lovely change. This is a peppery salad, making the most of the freshest early summer ingredients.
- Broad Beans with Fromage Frais
This recipe, sent in by lovely reader Katie, was served to her (a broad bean loather) by a dear friend. And because she describes herself as of the "polite persuasion" she forced herself to eat it. Imagine her surprise when it turned out to be delicious!
And we're very much in favour of recipes that convert the dubious into fans, so we're delighted to publish this one.
- Broad Beans, with Mint & Pecorino
This recipe has been provided by Riverford Home Delivery, Upper Norton Farm.
"Broad Beans are just coming in to season now. Broad beans are the only homegrown beans that are frost hardy and truly happy in our climate. They give us one of the first tastes of summer; six weeks sooner than runner or French beans.
"At Riverford we find nothing more relaxing than getting a large bag of beans and sitting down in quiet contemplation slowly popping these little gems from the jacket nature provided them. Don’t be put off if the pods are marked with ‘chocolate spot’ speckling, it will not affect the quality or the flavour of the beans.
"We also love this simple little recipe for Broad Beans, with Mint & Pecorino, which in the farm kitchen is known simply as Riverford Beans on Toast!"
- Chilli Broad Beans
This brilliant, simple dish has been sent in to us by Jane C, who says:
"I had a veg box with pounds of broad beans, and a friend brought me a huge bag from her allotment. I'd never tried them before, so I experimented with what I had handy, and this side dish has become a favourite with my 14 year old son."
Well we don't blame your son, Jane, and we're impressed with your creativity in the kitchen!
- Jam-Packed Summer Vegetable Risotto
This ruby-red risotto not only looks stunning but tastes amazing AND it can be adapted to use whatever's in your box this week.
- Monastery Soup
There are many variations on monastery soup but here is one that works well with spring and summertime vegetables.
- Podded Broad Beans
Taking broad beans out of their pods is the traditional way of serving them. It works best with fresh, young beans.
- Skinned Broad Beans
If your broad beans are more mature and larger, then you might want to pod them and then skin them. This leaves delicious, sweet, delicately-flavoured beans.
- Spring Vegetable Quinoa
Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”) is a South American “grain” – actually a seed. It’s considered by many to be a super-food, because of the balance of proteins it contains. It's easy to cook and delicious.
This recipe also uses sunflower or walnut oil in the dressing (high in essential fatty acids), so it's a super-tasty, super-healthy meal.
- Warm Beetroot, Broad Bean and Potato Salad
This recipe was submitted by Karen L, who says:
"I looked in my fridge and had a lot of the above and didn't know what to do with it all. I'm sorry I don't measure the ingredients I just bung it all together and its what I have to hand, however the result is a very tasty mess! I used to hate broad beans, having been forced to eat them as a child, but i find if they are skinned they are actually quote tasty. Its nice to eat a meal were all the ingredients were grown on my allotment."
You put us to shame, Karen - this is a wonderful creation and all the more exciting given that you grew all the ingredients!
Got one? Send us your recipe!
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