It's that time of year in the vegetable garden. One day you've got nothing, the next day your wife is handing over a trug full of something and telling you to get on with it. Earlier this week, it was broad beans. I can't claim ever to have eaten broad beans (that's fava beans for you Silence of the Lambs fans) in my life (except possibly in a bag of frozen mixed veg I bought by accident when I was at university), but I had a crack at them and it turned out really rather well.
Like I said, I'm not intimate with the ways of the broad bean, but I do know they feature pretty large in Levantine cooking. After digging through my Claudia Roden and a little light googling I cooked up the beans with dill and mint, served it with flatbread, garlic yoghurt, and lettuce salad, and we were, as the phrase goes, not disappointed.
These quantities made tea for two. So, head to your veg patch and search your cupboards for
- about a pound of fresh broad beans, newly liberated from their pods
- a nice big onion
- a tablespoon of dried dill - if I had fresh I would have used that instead
- handful of chopped fresh mint leaves - you probably could use dried, but you'd need much less
- a touch, a tiny touch of dried chilli flakes
- olive oil, 100ml or so
- some water
- Choose a pan that's going to fit everything, but quite snugly. You're aiming to cook the beans in as little liquid as you can.
- Chop the onion nice and fine, and fry it gently for a few minutes until brown around the edge but not all crispy. (I know it when I see it, but I'm not sure I've described it very well.)
- Throw in the beans, herbs, and chilli. Give it a mix. Pour over a goodly slug of oil. Add water to just cover the beans.
- Fire up the heat and bring to boil. Knock the heat back and simmer gently for 20 or 25 minutes, until the beans are nice and tender. Add a bit more oil, if you fancy.
- Let it stand for a moment to cool slightly, then chow down on these beautiful fresh beans in their lovely herby liquor.