What are they?
Broad beans, or fava beans as they are known by our American counterparts, belong to the legume or pulse family and are one of the oldest cultivated crops in the UK. For centuries, broad beans formed an essential part of the British diet but fell by the wayside as they became known as fare of the poor. Hannibal Lector’s infamous line in Silence of the Lambs, “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti,” hasn’t done much to help the poor broad bean’s reputation either!
However, these wonderful little beans are growing in popularity and rightly so; they have a sweeter, soother and richer taste than most other beans.
What to do with them?
Broad beans require some work but their delicious flavour and texture are worth the effort! Preparation consists of a two part process:
- Remove the beans from their pods.
- Immerse the beans in boiling water for a couple of minutes, refresh them in cold water then peel off their papery skins.
Then the beans are ready to add to your dishes!
You could posh up your beans on toast by using fresh broad beans instead of tinned beans. Pop them into your pasta dishes with some ricotta and lemon zest for a spring twist. Try tossing them together with fresh tomatoes, cucumber, onion, garlic, parsley and a simple dressing for a vibrant side dish. Go Middle Eastern and try incorporating them into a comforting pilaf. Or blitz together with crème fraiche to make a delicious dip, or with lemon, mint, olive oil and salt for a zesty hummus.
When are they in season?
Reach their peak from June until mid September.