Broad bean ramblings
June 24, 2006
Popping broad beans out of their fat furry pods is the easy bit. Then you’ve got to cook them and, if you’re dedicated to the quest for vegetable nirvana, squeeze each one of them out of their wrinkled grey-green jackets. What you have left is a small bowl of shiny bright green kidney-shaped little critters.
How to describe the flavour of broad beans? Maths chick says ‘Nutty, but more pea-y than nutty’. ‘They taste green’. ‘Like pea but more nutty’. We both agree the texture is almost more memorable than the flavour. A grainy, dense, firm texture.
In Spain we had them served as a tapa with cervezas in a cafe on the plaza at Trujillo – they were dried, brown, crunchy, and extremely salty. But very Moorish.
This afternoon we coarsely mashed our bowl of beans with a boiled potato (for body), olive oil, mint. A fresh, fragrant, filling dip to have with bread or pitta. A violent-green houmous. The mint was a dominant flavour – perhaps too strident. A small amount of this herb would probably help coax out the shy flavour of the bean – too much bullies them back into their shell.
Now I’ve got a whole pile of broad bean pods I’m reluctant to bung in the compost bin. Lurking in one of my more eccentric cook books I’m sure there’s a recipe for broad bean pod stew or some other Good Life-style lunacy. Hugh F-W would feed them to his pigs. Maybe I should use them to fatten up one of the local squirrels in time for Christmas.
Bizarre experience of the day: walking through Hampstead Heath hearing Art Garfunkel, in person, singing Bright Eyes (he was giving a concert in Kenwood House) while cutsey little bunnies hopped around a few yards away. As a member of the Watership Down generation this moment was ridiculous and wonderful in equal proportions.