Saturday, September 08, 2007

Weekend Herb Blogging #99

Katie from Thyme for Cooking is our host for this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging.

Though I'm forsaking the liver and a nice chianti I am taking a closer look at Fava Beans or as they are also known, Broad Beans

broad beans or fava beans

Broad beans are one of those vegetables that seem to suffer the curse of being overcooked. The key to their enjoyment is a two step process. First, briefly blanch the podded beans in boiling water - between 10 seconds and 30 seconds will be more than enough.

Drain them immediately and then peel away the thick outer skin to reveal the tender deep green beans. It is fiddly but well worth the effort as soon as you taste that sweet hidden jewel.

Unfortunately people will still boil the beans until that outer skin is tender, a process that destroys the character of the bean.

When you take a close look at that outer skin you can see just how thick it is - why would you want to eat it?

broad bean and skin

So if you are like Paalo and thought they didn't like broad beans then perhaps you too will be converted when they are cooked in this manner.

Today's recipe is all about enjoying the fresh taste of broad beans and I am teaming them with another favourite, peas. As it's now spring here, the peas are really coming into season and also need the barest of cooking to experience them at their best.

Presented as a topping for bruschetta, the combination of smashed broad beans and peas combined with fresh goat's curd, just screams freshness.

broad bean and pea bruschetta

Broad Bean, Pea and Goat Cheese Bruschetta

freshly podded broad beans
freshly podded peas
fresh goats curd
freshly ground salt and white pepper
ciabatta bread, sliced thickly
olive oil
garlic clove, peeled

Put a pot of water onto boil and when boiling add the broad beans. Blanch for less than a minute - if your beans are on the small size then cut down the time to 30 seconds. Use a spider to remove the beans from the pot. You can then add the peas and boil them for a minute - drain them immediately.

Now the boring bit begins - pop the broad beans from their skin.

Put half the podded broad beans and half the peas into a mortar, grind over with a little salt and white pepper and pound until roughly crushed. Add enough fresh goats curd to form a sticky paste then add the remaining peas and broad beans - fold through until just combined.

Cut the Ciabatta into thick slices, brush with a little olive oil and cook over a hot grill. When one side has developed ridge marks, flip over and repeat with the other side.

Rub one side of the hot bread with the garlic clove - this gives it a lovely delicate hint of garlic. Top with a good mound of beans and serve immediately.

Broad bean and pea Bruschetta

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  1. Haalo this looks lovely. The beans always look like they have such a luxurious home in their plush pods!
    I've made something very similar to your recipe in the past without the cheese but with fresh mint which goes really well with the beans.

    The broad beans I've been getting recently have been tiny and I think when they are this small you really can get away with leaving the (very thin) skins on in terms of taste and texture (though I guess you might still want to remove them for aesthetic reasons)

  2. I'm glad I read your blog. The fact that your seasons are opposite will give me something hopeful and lively to read when it hits -30 here in our winter. I'm worrying about my garden freezing, and you're eating spring veg - fantastic!

  3. I love that first photo - and seeing the little itty bitty fuzz on the bean shell.

  4. Gorgeous! (Can I use that to describe vegetables?)

    Such an original idea. I love all types of beans and this is a terrific way to enjoy them.

  5. All of my favorite flavors - and so pretty and spring-like!
    I just discovered the proper way to cook fava beans this spring and am hooked! Can't wait until the season starts....long time for us...

  6. This looks just so delicious. It sounds like a very creative and unique way to use fresh favas.

    Sigh, I've never had fresh fava beans, and I do feel quite deprived. I don't think I've even seen them at the farmers market here, although I guess I don't go there all season, since I have my own garden, so maybe I've just missed them. And then earlier in the summer I bought some at the Ferry Building market in San Francisco when I was visiting, and left them in the refrigerator in the hotel! Hopefully someday I'll finally get to try them.

  7. The fava bean plants are gone from our garden in Northern California, but I'll be saving this recipe for the next crop. They're quite easy to grow and have a charming small speckled white flower.
    Our favorite way to eat them -- when young -- is raw, topped with cubes of feta cheese, chopped fresh oregano and a drizzle of great olive oil.

  8. You know, I've never had fava beans before. I'd love to try your recipe. I know I'd love it. ;-)

    BTW, your meatballs below look scrumptious.


  9. That looks really good. This summer I tried fava beans for the first time, though in the form of a pesto with pecorino. They were surprisingly good.

  10. Wow! I am convinced that I will try broad beans again. Fabulous photos.

    I grew up with broad beans in the garden - they are prolific growers. We ate broad beans ALL The Time. Without removing the skin!!! I have never, ever liked them.

    But now I am motivated to try again. Thanks for another fabulous post.

  11. This is what I love on movie nights. A fee big slcies of thin bread, some crushed garlic and tomatoes on one, and beans/peas/cheese on te ohter. Love the recipe. My favorite luch is slad greens, with petite peas and fresh goat cheese, raspberry vinegar and oil.

  12. I actually cooked broad beans for the first time myself this weekend & they were good but hidden in a tart so the flavour did not shine through, I have a friend over for lunch this week & I think I will try this on her - sounds delicious!

  13. Wonderful pictures, and the spread looks tasty! I'll be writing about broad beans for WHB, too - providing a very rustic local version for eating them. Yours look a lot more elegant, Haalo :)

  14. Thanks Sophie, mint is an excellent match the beans.

    Thanks Kevin - that's a nice way of looking at it!

    Thanks Jaden, there's a lot of protection around those beans.

    Thanks Nora - I had crostini similiar to this in Italy and it's a great celebration of their fresh flavours.

    Thanks Katiez - cooking them correctly makes a huge difference.

    Thanks Kalyn - they grow really well so maybe it's something you could think about planting - then it would doubly good!

    Thanks Casey, sounds delicious!

    Thanks Paz - I'll make you some!

    Thanks Kevin - another delicious way of eating them!

    Thanks FM - I hope you do give them another go.

    Thanks Helene - I think I'll watch movies with you, Yum!

    Thanks Ange - they are great to nibble on with a nice glass of bubble!

    Thanks Pille - such an interesting recipe, I've never seen them cooked that way.

  15. Good morning Haalo, Your recipe looks splendid, but this time I have to disagree with you on the preparation part of the fava bean. Like you, I used to think that you couldn’t eat the outer skin, it’s though and ugly. And then came along Mojo, who thought me how to do it.
    You take off the "string" on the side of the fava bean skin, and then you steam it, longer than you did because the skin is though. After that you dice it with the beans still inside and you serve with lots of diced red onion, cumin, diced hot pepper, diced tomatoes, olive oil, salt pepper. Because the skin can be fibrous sometimes, you will have the find the freshest ones for the recipe. I can't say it's my favorite way of eating fava bean, but just wanted to share with you what I know.
    Usually, what I like to do is to steam the beans, longer because I don't like al dente and again that's a personal taste and serve only the fava beans, without the outer skin drizzled with olive oil, salt pepper and cumin. I also don't remove the thin layer that covers the bean. God, I talked too much today. Have a great week Haalo.

  16. That recipe is conjuring up images of sitting on the patio sipping a glass of white wine while enjoying the Broadbean bruschetta!!! What a lovely combination. Can't wait to try it!!! Thanks Haalo!!

  17. Hi Rose - that seems like more work than just blanching and skinning them - for my taste I'll skin them but people should eat them however they prefer.

    Thanks Pat - it's says spring all over it.

  18. Wow, that looks good! What a gorgeous colour too, so appetising!

  19. Fantastic looking recipe Haalo. While it can be a bit fiddly, it's so worthwhile removing those thick outer coatings. Plus it reveals the vibrant, bright green underneath. Much better than having you food turn that mucky green-grey it goes with the outer skin on.

  20. Thanks Holler!

    Thanks Kathryn - the appearance is an extra benefit of skinning them, it's a shame to hide that vibrant green bean.


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