We had never bothered to try broad beans until last year. When we arrived at our new home the veggie patch had a number of crops developing, one of these was some beautifully fragrant broad beans.
I would be weeding the deep beds and wonder where this sweet, exotic fragrance was coming from, it didn’t dawn on me it would be the flowers of the beans growing in the centre of the veggie garden.
As the pods started to swell, I thought I had better do a little surfing on the net. What was I going to do with the beans now they were looking pickable?
It turns out broad beans are a labour of love. First you must remove the beans from their pods, then you plunge them into boiling water to blanche them, then you plunge them into ice water to stop them cooking, and lastly you need to remove the skin of each bean to reveal the bright green legume. It is a tedious job, but boy is it worth it!
I threw together a simple recipe for using the beans and it has now become a firm favourite. The recipe includes asparagus which is in full swing at the same time as the beans, so with spears in the garden and the price of locally produced spears at a low of just 97 cents a bunch, it makes for a delicious and inexpensive meal.
Broad Bean & Asparagus on a bed of Pasta
The quantities really don’t matter, you can judge by eye as I do. For a meal for two, I use one medium sized onion, one shop-bought bunch of asparagus, one clove of garlic and a about four tablespoons of beans.
Pour olive oil into a baking dish, you’ll want a depth of oil that will cover the chopped onion that will be added later.
Pop the oiled dish into a hot oven (200 degrees c)
Meanwhile finely chop an onion and when the oil is hot add this onion carefully to the dish and return it to the oven.
Now wash and chop a bunch of Asparagus into small 3cm lengths.
Crush and chop a clove of garlic.
Add the handful of prepared broad beans to a bowl along with the asparagus and garlic, add a sprinkling of salt and pepper and a dash of olive oil. Mix so the oil lightly coats the beans and asparagus and the garlic is dispersed through. This can stand and absorb the garlic flavour whilst the onion cooks.
When the onions have just started to turn translucent and slightly golden, add the bean and asparagus mix.
When the beans and Asparagus look like they are starting to cook through, get some pasta into a pot of hot salted water and cook as per the instructions. We love this meal with a fresh tagliatelle but any form of pasta, fresh or dried will do.
When the beans and asparagus are tender to the bite, plate up the pasta and then spoon the vegetable mixture over the top. The oil in the dish is delicious so spoon a little over the pasta. Garnish with the finely grated cheese.