Thursday, 25 September 2008

Posh Broad Beans on Toast with Jamie Oliver, Bill Granger, Maggie Beer...and a poem

A Short-lived Love Affair
Unlike many veggies which are available all year round, broad beans have a distinct season. They appear in the markets from winter into spring, and then they’re gone until next year. Of course one can find dried and frozen broad beans anytime, BUT IT”S JUST NOT THE SAME! I have to part with my lovely broad beans soon. Therefore, for the September My Legume Love Affair event, created by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook and hosted this month by Lucy of Nourish Me, I present to you these lovely Broad Beans, 3 Recipes that accentuate all their goodness, and a Poem.

Broad beans are also known as field, winter, tick, horse, English, Windsor, faba or fava beans. Bean Beans are among the oldest cultivated crops a legume, it is a distant cousin to the garden snap bean. Like all legumes, broad beans are rich in protein, iron, zinc and fibre.

Playing with food is fun!

Select the smallest broad-bean pods you can find or, if you have a garden supply, pick the smallest ones first to eat whole and then the larger ones later to eat shelled. Go for bright perky-looking beans and avoid any that appear tired or floppy.


Preparing broad beans is a labour of love. It’s fiddly but easy. Put on your iPod, MP3 player, CD. Then, remove the beans from the shell. Next, to make it easier to peel away the tougher outer skin, blanch the beans in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds - bring a pan of water to the boil, toss in the beans, and let the water come to the boil again, which usually takes about 30 seconds. This loosens the outer skin on the broad beans, which can easily slip off. The bean is now "double peeled".

(Sources: Steve Manfredi, Burkes Backyard)

from Two Aussie cooks Maggie Beer and Bill Granger, and Jamie Oliver. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of these dishes because these beans never made it to the bread this time round because I was popping them in my mouth like popcorn! I love all three recipes because it brings out the best of fresh broad beans so do try them. If you really have to, frozen broad beans can be substituted.

Broad Beans with Pecorino
by Maggie Beers
From the TV series The cook and the Chef

3 cups broad beans
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (evoo) plus last moment drizzle
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
80-100g pecorino
4 slices sourdough bread for bruschetta

Serves 4. Maggie sorts large pods and small pods into different piles before peeling, and where possible uses the smaller ones. Blanch the broad beans in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes and refresh in cold water immediately. Heat a grill pan until hot, brush the slices of sourdough with a little olive oil and grill until well toasted on each side.

Add a little more evoo to the beans. Mix with mint and a little more evoo as needed. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Spoon onto the grilled bruschetta and serve with shavings of pecorino and an extra drizzle of evoo.

Broad Bean, Feta and Mint Bruchetta
by Bill Granger

500g broad beans
80ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
100g creamy feta
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp finely shredded mint
Chargrilled bread, to serve

Blanch the broad beans in a saucepan of lightly boiling water for 2-3 minutes or until just tender. Rinse under cold running water and drain well. Peel outer skins.

Place broad beans, olive oil, feta, lemon juice and garlic in a blender or food processor and process until a rough paste. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add mint and pulse for a few seconds until just combined.

Incredible smashed peas and broad beans on toast
from Jamie at Home

Jamie warns: “Don’t use frozen peas and broad beans for this because it sort of misses the point. Made with raw peas and sweet fresh broad beans, the whole thing will taste alive and just like summer.”

700g broad beans in their pods (about 250g shelled weight)
500g peas in their pods (about 150g shelled weight)
a small bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
50g finely grated fresh pecorino cheese, plus extra for serving
juice of 1 lemon
4 slices of sourdough bread
1 clove of garlic, unpeeled, cut in half
2 large balls of buffalo mozzarella cheese, torn in half
a handful of pea shoots

Serves 4. Pod the peas and broad beans, keeping them separate. Put any really small ones to one side to use in the salad.

This next bit is best done in a pestle and mortar, in batches if necessary. (You can pulse it in a food processor instead, but you won’t end up with the lovely bashed and bruised flavour that makes this dish incredible.) Bash up half the mint leaves with the peas and a pinch of salt. Add the broad beans a few at a time and crush to a thick green paste.

Mash in a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to make the paste spreadable. Stir in the pecorino. If the mixture is a bit stiff, add a little more oil to loosen it. Add about three-quarters of the lemon juice – this will bring it all together. Have a taste and see what you think. You want the richness of the pecorino and the oil to balance nicely with the freshness of the peas, beans and mint. Adjust seasoning if needed.

Toast the bread on both sides, either on a barbecue or in a hot griddle pan. Rub each slice twice only (very important) with the cut side of the garlic and top with some smashed peas and half a ball of mozzarella.

Dress the pea shoots, the remaining mint leaves and the reserved small peas and beans with the rest of the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and scatter this salad over the crostini. Finish with a little more olive oil and a grating of pecorino.

Check out how Jamie plates the dish here. Soooo gooooood!

Lastly, a Poem
(This must be my longest post ever!) If you feel inclined....Australian poet Les Murray accurately and humorously described the appeal of broad bean pods in The Broad Bean Sermon:

The Broad Bean Sermon
© Les Murray, Lunch and Counter Lunch 1974

Beanstalks, in any breeze, are a slack church parade
without belief, saying trespass against us in unison,
recruits in mint Air Force dacron, with unbuttoned leaves.

Upright with water like men, square in stem-section
they grow to great lengths, drink rain, keel over all ways,
kink down and grow up afresh, with proffered new greenstuff.

Above the cat-and-mouse floor of a thin bean forest
snails hang rapt in their food, ants hurry through several dimensions:
spiders tense and sag like little black flags in their cordage.

Going out to pick beans with the sun high as fence-tops, you find
plenty, and fetch them. An hour or a cloud later
you find shirtfulls more. At every hour of daylight

appear more than you missed: ripe, knobbly ones, fleshy-sided,
thin-straight, thin-crescent, frown-shaped, bird-shouldered, boat-keeled ones,
beans knuckled and single-bulged, minute green dolphins at suck,

beans upright like lecturing, outstretched like blessing fingers
in the incident light, and more still, oblique to your notice
that the noon glare or cloud-light or afternoon slants will uncover

till you ask yourself Could I have overlooked so many, or
do they form in an hour? unfolding into reality
like templates for subtly broad grins, like unique caught expressions,

like edible meanings, each sealed around with a string
and affixed to its moment, an unceasing colloquial assembly,
the portly, the stiff, anf those lolling in pointed green slippers ...

Wondering who’ll take the spare bagfulls, you grin with happiness
– it is your health – you vow to pick them all
even the last few, weeks off yet, misshapen as toes.


Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Broadbeans are well represented in your post Nora:D

Anonymous said...

Love your broad bean sizing guide. I've made the Jamie Oliver version - isn't it glorious. Haven't bought broad beans yet this year, must go out and get some. As you say, they're gone in a flash.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

What a fun post -- and I love love love your photos!

Anonymous said...

Nora! What can I say??!!

Do you know, they are my FAVOURITE bean. Ever. EVER. How did you know?

What a glorious entry - beautiful swaddled baby beans (the photos are delightful); Maggie Beer (how I love pecorino with my broad beans); that Jamie Oliver recipe which made me salivate on the telly; and Les Murray's poetic ode to my favourite bean (' hour or a cloud later...' how divine)!!

Thank you so much. I am thrilled to have you on board for the event. Make the most of their short season, I say. Thank you!

Eva said...

I've never had mushy peas and my encounters with broad beans are a pretty rare thing, too. However, now that a low of sourdough bread is just in the oven - guess what I'll be making with it..;-) Need to go shopping for the last beans now...

Eva said...

I went for the Maggie Beer version including some lemon juice plus I rubbed garlic on my sourdough bread - almost ate it all in one sitting..;-)

Susan said...

They are so adorable. Wish I could easily find them fresh in the States.

Delicious trio of recipes, Nora, like three peas, uh, beans in a pod. ; )

Unknown said...

Oh, beautiful broad beans! What an eloquent poem, and an eloquent post. These recipes make me long for spring, though it's autumn here!

Nora B. said...

Val - Thank you!


Kathryn - The Jamie version is the most luxurious of the 3, I think. Better get some beans soon. I'm going to get some more this weekend.


Lydia - Thank you. These beans were very cooperative models :-)


Dear Lucy, I didn't know that they are your fav beans. I loved how you described them in your post about them a while back, something about sleeping babies. I am off to the markets again today to get some more of these beans and mangoes!!


Eva, I saw your post! I am so happy that you managed to find some broad beans and that you also enjoyed them. :-)


Susan - They are so adorable! I can't get over how furry & cute the inside of their shells are.


Rosa - Thank you, thank you! These beans were so beautiful, I just had to put up lots of photos of them & I am glad that you enjoyed them & the post.

Unknown said...

Your photos are drop-dead gorgeous! I would make ANYTHING with beans that beautiful!

Nora B. said...

awww, thanks for that compliment. The beans were gorgeous. I'm off to peel some now... :-)

tigerfish said...

Oh-so-cute! Looks like it is more fun playing with these beans, huh ? :P

Anonymous said...

wow, this is a proper ode to broadbeans! :)

i can see how much fund you've had playing around with the beans photographing them. gorgeous

Nora B. said...

Tigerfish - It was heaps of fun :-)


Maninas - Thank you! They were almost too gorgeous to eat. ;-)

Coffee and Vanilla said...


I was thinking of you :)
Yes, thank you, gym treating me good... but I'm so tired that I hardly ever get a chance to do anything online.
That is very interesting, never seen fresh broad beans here, only frozen baby broad beans... But I remember from back home, huge and not so green in colour beans, cooked in salty water, delicious!
Enjoy the rest of your weekend, M.

Anonymous said...

The beans look so cute. Thanks for the sizing guide! :)

Nora B. said...

Margot, good to hear that you are still going to the gym regularly. Our bodies have an amazing way of adapting, so I'm sure that you will feel less tired as the weeks go by. Look out for fresh broad beans towards the end of winter-spring.


Veron - Thanks. They were so cute that I had to play with them :-)

Maggie said...

What a wonderful post Nora.

Big Boys Oven said...

lovely beans photos indeed and very well captured!

Anonymous said...

I never knew beans could be this beautiful! What great shots!...Selamat Hari Raya...I cooked the lontong, lodeh, serunding, satay feast and am soo bushed now! LOL...a little price to pay for aray feast.

Jeff said...

I like the playing with the beans picture.

I like the Jamie recipe. Always a good hit and so simple.

Unknown said...

These pictures are great!

Gloria Baker said...

These are beautiful Nora, all, the pictures, the poem I love all. I want to know how is your Spring dear, here some days sunshine and we said ehhy Summer arrived!! and now a very cold night!! Is a crazy spring!!!, I have clothes about all types in my closet(Autum/winter and spring) the only thing is the same is Jeans!!!(Thanks God by the Jeans!) xxGloria

Kale for Sale said...

All I wanted to do was look at the pictures. They are stunning.

But I did scan the recipes enough to make my mouth water too.

Anh said...

What a post!!! :) I seem to miss out broad beans this year. But I can't wait to get my hands on all summer fruits!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

These are one of my favorite beans of all, and I would gladly eat them in any one of these recipes. We call them fava beans here and won't see them again until the spring. But they're worth the wait.

Jesse said...

I've heard all sorts of bizarre things about fava bean preparation - I really appreciate your simplified version. I have them in my garden right now and honestly wasn't sure how to prepare them. Perfect timing!

Aimée said...

Your pics are so cute! I can tell you had fun playing with them.:)

Kelly-Jane said...

I love broad beans, and always snap them up when I see them in the Summertime.

Great post, I love your broadbean family picture :)

Coffee and Vanilla said...


What a great post and I love photos as well! :)
I don't know if that is different variety or they are just old broad beans but I remember from my childhood huge, yellowish, brownish broad beans, they were cooked only is salted and sugared water and then we were seating and eating them for hours, removing the shells.... they were tasting similar to those small green broad beans but they were much denser in taste.
Have a wonderful day Nora, Margot

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Brilliant post Nora. We love broad beans!

I didn't realise that's what they call fava beans until I read Susan's comment.

Hope all is well with you. xx

Fake cake said...


I hope you are allright!

We have very cold now. Do you have summer... spring?

I love your photos whith the beans:)


Fake cake said...

You have some things to take in may blog:)


Half Baked said...

Your photo's are gorgeous!!! wonderful post!

Anonymous said...

My first taste of these beans is in France and they ate them raw here. It's actually not bad at all.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Your pictures are so great! I love the beans in a line with their little caps on.

Karin W. said...

Here's something for you. Bye and greetings from Sweden.

Chef Jeena said...

Great broad bean post love the pics. :-)

Fake cake said...