Sunday 7 July 2013

Eating freshly picked Broad Beans (and whether or not to peel them)...

Freshly picked Broad Beans

It is a special moment when you harvest your first broad beans of the summer - these ones were put into the ground months ago, back in November just before the winter set in and when the days were a little chillier than they are now.

Broad Beans are also known as Fava Beans, and as I did not grow up eating these, I was somewhat confused about how to cook them and even more importantly, whether to shell the beans or not.

Unlike the Mangetout (Snow Peas) that I have grown which can be eaten pea and pod and all, broad beans come in giant pods which when split open, reveal up to six or seven beans within, which also come in their own pale green outer casing.

Broad bean pod with young beans within

Now, I have learnt that they can be eaten both ways, either with their shells on or skinned.

For freshly picked beans that are of a small size, they can be eaten unpeeled.  The simplest way to prepare them is to boil the beans with skins intact, and serve simply with a little butter, salt and pepper (and obligatory glass of white wine!).  You can also add herbs and lemon juice, of course.  Or try some of these recipes for unskinned fava beans.

Unshelled Broad beans as a starter

For larger beans, you will probably want to shell the beans as the skin can tough and leathery.  The easiest way to do this, is to boil the beans for about 3 minutes, and then to squeeze the bean out of its casing using your fingers.  The beans will pop out easily.  And whilst this may be time consuming, it will be well worth it for their unbeatable sweet flavour and rich, creamy texture.

Broad Bean and Mangetout salad

Broad Beans can be added to salads, along with other seasonal vegetables - on very lazy evenings, we throw fish on the barbecue and have it with this very easy Broad Bean and Mangetout salad.

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