Broad Bean Stew

Spring is definitely on its way. The days are getting longer and milder, blossom is out, daffodils fill the grass verges, I am about to become another year older and I have planted this year’s crop of broad beans. So it must be time I used up the remains of last year’s crop, carefully podded, bagged and stored safely in the freezer.

This broad bean stew hits the spot. Balanced sweet and sour tastes from the addition of pomegranate molasses and lime juice. Just put everything in the pot and forget about it for half an hour or so.

This made enough to feed four with the rice.

3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion – finely chopped
1 stick celery – finely chopped
1 carrot – finely diced
2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
1 teaspoon each of whole fenugreek seeds, paprika powder, ground turmeric
2 mugs of shelled broad beans – fresh or frozen
2-3 tablespoons tomato puree
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
Juice of half a lime
Vegetable stock – enough to cover the vegetables
Fresh mint and parsley – roughly chopped
Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a large pan – one that has a lid.

When hot, add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic and gently fry until tender. Add the spices, stir then add the beans. Stir gently to cover the beans with the other vegetables then cover with stock and add the tomato puree. Add the pomegranate molasses, stir, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and gently simmer for around 30 minutes, checking from time to time to ensure it hasn’t dried out. Add a little water if it starts to look dry.

Remove the lid and add the lime juice and chopped herbs. Stir and serve with rice or flatbreads.

Note: If you prefer a moorish flavour, leave out the pomegranate molasses and lime juice and add half a finely chopped preserved lemon at the same time as adding the stock. This will make it more like a tagine dish.

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Broad Bean Burgers

For those of you who grow your own you’ll be aware broad bean season is once again upon us. Broad beans are one of the easiest things to grow, just watch out for blackfly and pinch out the tender tops as the plants grow to prevent the blackfly from spreading.

This recipe really does benefit from the extra time spent shelling the beans. Even young broad beans will work best if you remove the tough husks. I think I used about 30-40 pods when making this. I got 4 decent sized burgers out of it. You can shape the mixture into burgers and freeze for use later if you have too much to eat in one sitting.

Broad beans
2 large potatoes
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 red chili
2-3 slices of bread
Large pinch of turmeric
Large handful of parsley and coriander
1 egg
salt

Remove the beans from their pods, place in boiling water and boil rapidly for 3 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water. Remove the skins and place the shiny green beans in a large bowl.

Peel and chop the potatoes. Cover with water. Bring to boil and simmer until tender. Drain and add to the beans. Mash roughly.

Finely chop the onion, garlic and chili and fry gently in olive oil until tender. Add to the mashed beans and potatoes. Add the turmeric, egg, chopped herbs and season with salt. Mix well then blitz the bread into crumbs and add those too.

Heat a pan with a little olive oil. Take a handful of the burger mixture and shape into a round burger. Fry gently on both sides until browned.

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Spaghetti With Pea and Broad Bean Pesto

It’s pea and broad bean season on the allotment (but you can use frozen if you don’t grow your own).

Serves 4
100g shelled peas
100g shelled broad beans
1 small leek
1 clove garlic – finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice of half a lemon
a small block of parmesan – about 100g – finely grated
more olive oil
salt
basil
200g spaghetti

Bring a large pan of water to the boil the add the peas and broad beans. Birng back up to the boil and leave boiling rapidly for 3-4 minutes. Drain then soak the peas and beans in cold water to stop them overcooking. Now the fiddly bit – remove the tough skins from the beans.

While the beans and peas are cooling, halve the leek lengthways the slice finely. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and add the leeks and garlic. Fry gently until soft then put the leeks and the beans and peas into a food processor. If you don’t have one, put them in a large bowl and get ready with your potato masher.

Add a handful of chopped fresh basil, salt, lemon juice, grated parmesan and good splash of olive oil then pulse with the processor blade or mash until you have a rough paste. Thin with more oil if needed.

Bring another large pan of water to the boil and cook the spaghetti as per the instructions on the pack. When cooked, drain, return the pan to the heat and add the bean and pea mixture. Then add the spaghetti and stir well. Once the pesto has warmed through, serve with a simple tomato salad.

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Broad Bean Dip

The first crop of broad beans have survived the odd weather we have had this year. Cold, hot, wet, cold, windy and no matter how much rain seems to fall, we still are officially in drought according to our water company. Despite all this the beans seem happier than ever, untouched by blackfly that has ravaged my crop over the past couple of years.

Saturday was warm and sunny, a break before the deluge starts again on Monday, so time for something fresh and healthy to eat in the garden.

Ideally you need a food processor, but if you don’t have one, a potato masher will work quite well and give it a more rustic texture. just make sure you chop the herbs finely. Serve with warm breads, green salad and olives.

2-3 good handfuls of broad beans – if you can’t get fresh, then use frozen.
Large bunch of dill or if you prefer you can use mint
100-150g natural yogurt
A good glug or two of good olive oil
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice – optional
Salt

Bring a pan of water to the boil, then add the shelled broad beans and boil for about 3 minutes until just tender. Rinse under cold water. If using larger beans, remove the skin from each bean (bit of a pain but worth it to avoid picking out pieces of tough skin from between your teeth). Smaller beans can be left as is.

Put the beans, herbs and yogurt in a food processor or blender and pulse until the beans are well chopped up. Stir in some olive oil and the lemon juice if using and a little salt to taste.

Drizzle with a little more olive oil before serving

Blue Cheese with Puy Lentils and Broad Beans

I’m getting quite excited now at the prospect of meeting the legendary Yottam Ottolenghi next month. I’ve been lucky enough to get onto one of his courses at the Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath.

Having spent the bank holiday weekend clearing the allotment, I had one last serving of broad beans and thought they would go well combined with Ottolenghi’s Castelluccio lentils with tomatoes and Gorgonzola. Here is my version which in the most part is identical.

Start by making the slow roasted tomatoes which can be made well in advance and stored in sealed jars.
approx 400g small plum of cherry tomatoes
glug of olive oil
drizzle of balsamic vinegar
a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme or oregano
salt

Heat the oven to 120C. Cut the tomatoes in half. Place in an oven proof dish then add the olive oil, balsamic and herbs. Mix gently, sprinkle with salt then place in the oven for about 2 hours. Discard the thyme then while still hot spoon into warm, sterile jars, put the lid on tightly and allow to cool. These will keep for months.

1 smallish red onion – finely sliced
2 large handfuls of puy lentils
2 large handfuls of podded broad beans
1 tablespoon sherry or white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic – crushed
handful of parsley and dill – finely chopped
100g creamy mild blue cheese – Dolcelatte or Gorgonzola
salt and pepper

Take two pans, Place lentils in one and cover with water. Take the other and add a couple of litres of water. Place both on the heat. When the lentils start to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook gently for around 20 minutes until tender but still holding their shape. When the water in the other pan boils, add the broad beans, bring back to the boil then simmer for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Put the sliced onion and vinegar in a bowl. Then add the cooked broad beans (I prefer to remove the outer skins too). Drain and add the lentils. Leave to cool.

Now add the garlic, herbs, olive oil and cubed cheese. Mix in a few of the tomatoes, season with black pepper and serve with bread for a complete and hearty meal for 3 or 4 depending on how greedy you are.

Broad Bean, Pea and Feta Bruschetta

This couldn’t have been fresher (except for the peas). I picked some broad beans and mint from the allotment this evening, came home and made these within half an hour of picking. Delicious even if I say so myself and inspired partly by my dinner party hosts from Saturday night and partly from Celia Brooks Brown’s recipe in The Times this week.

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Good portion of Broad Beans – I think I had picked about 20 pods, each one contains 3-5 beans
Similar quantity of peas – I used frozen as my fresh ones have some way to go yet
100g feta cheese
black pepper
finely chopped mint – about a tablespoon
French bread

Boil the beans and peas for 3 minutes, drain then rinse under cold water to prevent them overcooking. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mash with a fork or do as I did and get your hands in a knead well until everything mushy and well combined.

Cut some french bread or ciabatta into thin slices, toast then spread the bean mixture on top. Serve with some lemon wedges.

Rice with Potatoes and Broad Beans

It’s been a busy weekend down on the allotment. Now that any danger of a frost has gone I got the beans and courgettes in, removed tons of weeds and planted more spinach and tomatoes. Watering is so time-consuming now that there is so much growing and with the hot spell set to last, it looks like I’ll be up at 5am every day this week to water before work. Watering in the morning seems to work well at keeping the slugs at bay. By the time they come out after dark, the soil is too dry for their liking so they tend to stay well away.

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I picked the first crop of broad beans this morning and cooked them with rice, potatoes and herbs from the garden. This is a variation on the rice and potatoes I make with my Mushroom and Tofu Stroganoff

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The quantities you use depend on how many you are serving
White Basmati Rice
2-3 Medium Potatoes
Broad Beans – shelled of course
2 large knobs of butter
Bunch Fresh Oregano or Dill – roughly chopped

Place enough rice in a large pan for the number of people you are serving, Rinse in several changes of water then cover with water and bring to the boil.

As soon as the rice starts to swell, remove from the heat, drain through a seive, rinse with cold water and put to one side.

Peel the potatoes and cut into 3mm slices. Return the pan to a medium heat and add a large knob of butter. When melted, place the potato slices in layers to cover the bottom of the pan.

Now pile the rice on top of the potatoes, then the braod beans and chopped herbs. Add 2-3 tablespoons of water, the other knob of butter and cover. Cook gently over a low-medium heat for about 40 minutes until the rice has puffed up and the potatoes are fried on the bottom.

This method relies on the rice steaming so do not remove the lid during the cooking process.

Serve with home made hummous, natural yogurt and salad.