A celebration of the broad bean from Kathy Slack
Broad beans are, for me, the ultimate legume. Not just wall-to-wall sweetness like a pea, they have texture and a hint of bitterness that makes them a more grown up, savoury option. The sometimes painstaking ritual of removing their velvety pod blanket then popping them out of their silky jackets is often considered a chore, but personally I welcome the chance to marvel at their creation(did you ever see a cosier vegetable?) rather than see them as just another green on the side.
The savoury tang of broad beans means they are happy beside strong flavours. Tossed in salty bacon lardons, muddled with smoked trout in a new potato salad or mashed onto toasted sourdough and topped with shaved parmesan, they will hold their own and add both vibrancy and variety. Broad beans are also a great match for citrusy flavours like the sherbet zing of sorrel and the gentle sourness of goat’s cheese, as here in this summery salad. I’ve also added some broad bean tips—the growing shoots of the plant, where the youngest leaves and flower buds are tight and crisp and taste intensely green. It feels satisfyingly neat to see both bean and tip in the same dish, but if you can’t find the tips, pea shoots will do nicely.
200g broad beans (podded weight—approximately 600g in their pods)
25g broad bean tips
2 red spring onions
A small bunch of fennel fronds
10 sorrel leaves
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp moscatel vinegar
125g soft goat’s cheese
Cook the broad beans in a saucepan of boiling, salted water for 1 min, then drain and rinse the beans in ice-cold water to stop them cooking further. Pop the beans out of their jackets and put them in a mixing bowl. Smaller beans can be left in their jackets, but the skins of large beans are a bit chewy and best removed.
Take the broad bean tips and separate the smallest leaves closest to the flower buds from the top of the growing tip. Add both to the mixing bowl. Tear the fennel fronds up, finely chop the spring onions and add these to the bowl too.
For the dressing, roughly chop the sorrel leaves, removing any thick stems, and put them in a blender or food processor with the olive oil, vinegar and a pinch of salt. Whizz to make a green sauce. Check the balance of flavours and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Pour half of the dressing over the beans and toss together gently.
Spread a thick layer of goat’s cheese over two serving plates. Pile the broad bean mixture on top, drizzle over the remaining sorrel dressing and serve.
Recipe and images: Kathy Slack