Broad beans

Back in vogue and back on the menu, the world-class British broad bean is attracting many new followers.  No longer the grey/green beans of yesteryear, the trick to enjoying modern-day broad beans is to ‘double-pod’ them and reveal the small emerald green bean inside that’s a true gem. 

That said, not all broad beans need to be podded, the first crop of young beans should have skins soft enough to eat.  And, if you’re lucky enough to find small, slender broad bean pods, these can be cooked whole with the beans inside - quite a delicacy.

It’s most likely however that you will find larger beans, so here’s a step-by-step-guide on how to prepare these truly tasty treats from podding to plate.

1. Begin by snapping off one end of the pod and splitting it open to reveal the broad beans inside.  Gently push your thumb down the inside of the pod and the beans will fall clear.

2. Boil for 5 minutes or steam for 7-12 minutes – the cooking time depends on the size and age of the beans, you want them to be soft and tender so test with a fork while cooking.  Tip – don’t add salt or the skins tend to toughen.

3. Once cooked, drain the water and grab a plate and bowl.  Now here’s the trick to enjoying one of nature’s gems.  Gently snip one end of the thick grey/green outer skin with your fingernail.

4. Squeeze from the opposite end and out should pop the brighter, greener bean inside.  Discard the skin.

 

Do this to all the beans; it will take a little more time but it’s worth it for the treat inside.

Once you’re done you will have a plate of bright emerald green beans that taste just delicious; at this point many people drizzle the beans with a little olive oil and a smattering of sea salt and devour them, but you can team them up with super-fresh seasonal ingredients and store cupboard basics and entertain family and friends with an array of al fresco dining dishes.

For tasty al fresco dishes see our recipe section.