I have readers and followers of this blog all over the world and it occurred to me that not everyone might be familiar with broad beans as an easy-to-grow and delicious-to-eat vegetable. This situation was confirmed today when a couple of people came to visit and I asked if they wanted me to pick some of my crop for them to take home for dinner. I found I needed to explain how to prepare and cook these beans. And of course it is all so very simple.
First, here are two photos of some of my broad bean plants enjoying the spring sun . They are the taller grey/green leafed plants with a yellow flowering rose and orange flowering nasturtium on the left of the cluster, and golden calendulas to the right of the group.
These have white flowers which start closer to the ground and gradually bloom higher and higher up the stems. In turn pods containing the beans grow from these flowers, once pollinated. That is, closest to the ground are the fullest pods and those ready for picking to eat the soonest.
I harvested a bowl full.
You do not cook the pods only the large beans inside. So I set about unpodding the beans. Each bean is attached by something like an umbilical cord to one side of the pod and rests in a soft velvety moist ‘couch’ (my word – not a technical term).
The discarded pods can be added into a composting pile, dug directly into your garden soil, or placed under a layer of mulch as a great nutrient giver.
The beans should be added to a pot of boiling water. Depending on the size and tenderness of the unpodded beans, they may need boiling for between 2 and 5 minutes. Mine, with their range of sizes, got 3-4 minutes. I drained off the excess fluid – good to drink separately or can be used where vegetable stock is required in a recipe.
While the beans boiled, I poached a small filet of white fish caught in Bass Strait (the body of water which separates Tasmania from mainland Australia), cut it into four small portions, and with liberal grindings of black pepper placed all in a bowl. I stirred through the beans before drizzling a tiny amount of flaxseed oil across.
This fresh, clean meal that used very few products, left me full and satisfied.
As I type this post I am inclined to repeat the process for dinner this evening!
Broad beans can be a vegetable to accompany a meat, egg or chicken dish, or be used as part of many vegetable recipes. Terrific in salads. If you have never eaten broad beans (or, as a child, you were forced to eat overcooked beans that had lost their colour and were tasteless and like eating nasty cardboard), then when you see the pods for sale at the market next time, I urge you to buy then try some. The freezers of supermarkets now sell frozen broad beans that have been removed from their shells making them a quick go to for inclusion in evening meals after a busy day. If you want to grow them, the seeds need to be planted in autumn and they need cold nights to get them going. Let me know how you go.