A friend of mine at work has an allotment. Lucky chap. I love the idea of an allotment, although suspect that the reality would be altogether dirtier and more tiresome. Anyway, recently he brought in a load of broad beans that he had grown and now needed to use, all of which were gratefully received by his colleagues.
But the truth is, I was unsure as to what to do with them. I have cooked broad beans before but wouldn't call myself a fan particularly. However, it turns out that I love broad beans when they're shmushed up with other stuff. Who knew?
First a word on cooking and preparing. The first job is to remove them from the pods - this was D's responsibility and was easy enough to do in front of the TV. Once the beans have been podded, you need to bring a pan of water to the boil, pop them in and simmer for two minutes, then drain and run them under the cold tap until they are cool to the touch. Now they need to be squeezed out of their little grey jackets. This, again, is an easy enough job to do albeit slightly tedious - again, I would recommend accompanying with a podcast or an episode of "Gilmore Girls" (current Netflix obsession). We stored the beans submerged in cold water in the fridge until the time came to use them - I'm not sure whether this is necessary or not. It did not do them any harm.
Broad bean dip
This recipe is loosely based on the ingredients list for Waitrose's pecorino and basil dip which is a household favourite. I was really pleased with the balance of flavours that I got here - the broad beans were enhanced but not overwhelmed. This was an utterly delicious taste of summer. Although we just had it on tortilla chips, I would also eat it as an accompaniment to a main course - I can imagine it being delicious with a nice piece of trout.
70g broad beans, weighed after shelling
2 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp mayonnaise
20g Parmesan, finely grated
8-10 mint leaves
Tsp chopped dill
Squeeze of lemon juice
Half a clove of garlic fine grated
Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the beans and simmer gently for 2-3 minutes until nice and soft. Remove from the heat and drain.
Meanwhile, put all the other ingredients into a mini blitzer (I swear by my Kenwood one. We use it all the time and the day it breaks we will be straight out to replace it). Whizz them together so that they are all well blended. Season lightly.
Add the broad beans and whizz again until smooth. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste - perhaps add a touch more lemon juice which should really help the flavours to sing.
Serve as a dip or a sauce or just eat with a spoon. It really is that good.
Broad bean and pea crostini
A Jamie Oliver recipe, very slightly tweaked, this makes a perfect summery snack or starter. Quantities are rather vague - this is easily adapted depending on the amount of people you have to feed.
So preheat your oven to around 180. Slice a baguette, brush slices with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake until crisp - probably 10-15 minutes depending on how much of a beast your oven is. Set aside to cool.
Bring a pan of lightly salted water to the boil and then add a decent size handful of podded, shelled broad beans and another of peas and simmer for around 5 minutes until nice and soft. Drain and return to the pan.
Using a masher, lightly crush together the vegetables: you want them to retain some texture. Then, throw in a good splash of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and a flurry of grated Parmesan. Stir through and check the seasoning. I personally enjoy a good hit of black pepper here.
Spread the cooled crostini with cream cheese and then top with the broad bean and pea mix. For us, this made six very generously topped crostini but I reckon it would have gone further were we not such greedy minxes.