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Broad Beans
Broad Beans
In Season June

Written June 2010 by Vikki Jones

BROAD BEANS

BROAD BEANS HAVE A REPUTATION FOR BEING A BIT TRICKY. WHEN SHOULD YOU PICK THEM? SHOULD YOU SHELLTHEM? AND IS IT REALLY NECESSARY TO REMOVE THE SKINS? WITH ALL THESE QUESTIONS, IT'S NO WONDER SO MANY OF US ONLY USE THEM FROM A BAG IN THE FREEZER.

In truth, however, anything goes - different cuisines favour different sizes and cooking methods. Italians eat them raw with pecorino cheese and the French use small beans and eat them whole, steamed in their pods. They're wonderfully creamy in risotto with salty bacon, or blended with garlic and mint as a dip. If you have space, it's worth growing your own so you can use these sweet and delicious beans at any stage you like, from pea-sized to fully grown.

The only thing to remember is the bigger they are, the less of the plant you can eat. For large beans, around 1kg will give you a shelled and skinned weight of about 300g. Put don't let this put you off - shelling beans in the summer sun is very therapeutic!

The recipe below comes from Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook (Bloomsbury), which is a fantastic book for anyone wanting to make the most of seasonal food. The beauty of this salad is its simplicity - just a few store-cupboard ingredients and fresh herbs will make something delicious in minutes. Vary the herbs according what you have available, either from the shops or your own garden.

Sarah Raven's Warm Broad Bean Salad- (Serves 6)


400g (shelled weight) broad beans
1 tbsp chopped mint
2 tbsp chopped chervil
½ tsp chopped tarragon
2 spring onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
100ml extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp chopped parsley, to serve

Method
1 Cook the broad beans in boiling water for approximately five minutes, depending on their size.
2 Drain and rinse under cold water to stop them cooking. If you're using larger beans, remove the skins as these will be tough.
3 Mix the vinegar, spring onion, mint, chervil and tarragon in a bowl. Whisk in the olive oil, reserving one tablespoon.
4 Gently heat the remaining oil in a pan. Add the broad beans and toss until warm.

5 Transfer to a serving dish, add the dressing and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

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