Broad beans, also known as fava beans, are a member of the pea family despite their name. They are best double podded, as their shell is leathery; however, young pods can be eaten whole.
To shell the beans, snap the stem end of the pod, then pull the “string” along the spine of the pod. Run your thumb down the inside of the velvety pod to pop the beans out. Quickly blanch the beans and once drained, shell them again. Once podded, you are left with a bright green, sweet, succulent “seed”. About 1kg of broad beans will give you roughly 2 cups of shelled beans.
Grill young broad beans, then serve with a lemon dressing and shaved pecorino. Eat these whole, pod and all; they make a great bar snack or seasonal green side. Broad beans pair well with other spring greens like asparagus and peas. Any combination of these makes for a fresh, surprisingly flavoursome match. Use in risottos, pasta salads, soup or purees. The vibrancy of the broad bean brings life to spring menu items. Pair a creamy broad bean puree with a perfectly seared lamb loin or roast pork belly. Add fresh herbs to the mix like mint or try tarragon for a change. Broad beans provide an excellent source of protein. Use as a nutritional component in cabinet salads or pair with avocado to diversify your classic Avo Smash.
Smoked fish and broad beans can’t be forgotten this spring. Whip up hash cakes for the cabinet with this winning combo. Smashed broad beans, smoked salmon and créme fraîche mixed with capers and lemon create a moreish spread for crostini, platters and canapés.
You can’t go wrong when pairing broad beans and dairy. Use with ricotta in a light pasta, Parmesan and cream in risotto, or feta in salads.