STAY HOME EAT VEG #3 BROAD BEANS
At Global Gardens, we love broad beans. As a nitrogen-fixing legume, they are good for the soil, supporting soil fertility. Their sweet-scented flowers are a good source of forage for bees. Rich in protein, minerals (including copper, magnesium and manganese), folate and immune boosting nutrients, they are good for us. This week, our #StayHomeEatVeg featured community chef Lia of Lia's Kitchen has been busy exploring the humble broad bean...
Here is a blog and recipes from Lia. She has has two other recipes on her blog: .Creamed broad beans with yoghurt and roasted hazelnuts on crostini and Broad bean pod fries with Korean Gochugang dipping sauce.
Chef feature: Lia (Lia's Kitchen)
I am Lia and have lived in Cardiff for over eighteen years. I run a community interest company/ethical food venture called Lia’s Kitchen, which is currently producing mostly digital outputs.
My approach to cooking is simple.
I am inspired by people, travel, memories, ingredients, low impact approaches and different culinary cultures. I often start a culinary exploration with a spice or an ingredient sometimes seasonal or important to mention because of its low impact/ethical story, health benefit, cultural significance or how it can inspire a wasteless approach to cooking or living. I also often am inspired by an individual who I have met or has approached me with food.
I am a self-confessed bookworm. I walk around the house picking books from shelves to bury my nose in their scent. Cookbooks (from the Larousse Gastronomique, Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe cookery course bible, Dianne Kennedy’s Mexican Food ethnographic work or Jamie Oliver’s 18-year old books from a different lifetime) have been my cookery school and training. Together with my rich food heritage and encounters with people who shared their knowledge and food, cookbooks have made me a chef or cook – whatever you prefer to call me. I have taken time to read and practice in their company, particularly during tough times such as the isolation imposed on many of us by this pandemic.
I have a large library of cookbooks. And as part of the Lia’s Kitchen CIC we have collected over 50 second hand and donated cookbooks to inspire others to cook, eat, share and learn. Get in touch if you would like inspiration relating to an ingredient- we will look through our books and send you inspiration.
At the moment I am enjoying the time and opportunity to reflect on how best to continue telling our shared story through food. Please join the conversation. Sign up to our social media (Instagram:@lias_kitchen, Facebook, Twitter @liaskitchen) and follow our blog. Please also get in touch if there is a recipe and food story you would like to share from your home, life and travel (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This crop share sparked some beautiful conversations with my Greek family. It is linked closely to memories of my maternal grandmother, who was a vegetable grower and farmer in North Eastern Greece, a skilled Bahtsevána (female vegetable grower). My cousin Elpida (and one of the Lia’s Kitchen CIC directors) remembers eating raw broad beans on the stalk when picking them with grandma in her house allotment a stone’s throw away from the kitchen. My mom reminisces on my grandma cooking vats of whole young broad beans with chunks of beef for village celebrations. She cooked it with dill and carrots and potatoes.
After ‘staying’ in the UK, I rediscovered the crop at Welsh farmers’ markets and friends’ allotments all of which played an important role reconnecting me to my heritage. It’s beautiful when you realise how connected we are despite geographical distance and different spoken tongues. Food has this power, to make you be at home and feel connected to each other.
I have also grown this resilient crop in my cold, dark, north/east facing garden. My crop was so small I actually collected pods one by one and froze the beans in the same container until I had enough for a dish. This is a great way to store broad beans as they freeze really well! Tip shared!
To begin with I cooked mostly Broad bean risotto with dill, asparagus and peas. There are so many recipes out there so I will not add mine. Then I started using the beans with strong paprika flavoured meats or onions and seafood (octopus).
This time I wanted to cook something new and simple, basic but fresh. So I picked about ten cookbooks from the shelves and was inspired by chefs and writers such as Genevieve Taylor, Catherine Phipps, Darina Allen, Samin Nosrat, Meera Sodha - some of the contemporary female food royalty. Due recognition is to the amazing Chef Tom Hunt, a low impact cooking inspiration to all of us.
This is what I think you need to know about broad beans and how to use them:
Eat broad beans without fear. They are not toxic unless you have an enzyme deficiency now diagnosed at birth in the Western world. The deficiency can prove lethal and can be common in isolated communities sharing a genetic pool such as my dad’s village. Luckily Dad and I can eat broad beans!
The best time to cook the whole bean (pod and all) is when they are very young and the skin of the pod is almost transparent or the beans are not bigger than the nail of your little finger. String like you would with runner beans and cook in traditional Greek way with dill, sautéed onions, garlic, potatoes and carrots (and beef if you eat meat).
You can eat a mature pod instead of throwing away by making easy fritters. We have been inspired by Tom Hunt’s recipe for Broad bean fried pods, whilst Genevieve Taylor’s book Charred inspired us to make a Korean Chilli flake & sesame seed dip for the fritters.
Young and tender beans do not need to be shelled or double podded. In fact, I often use them whole in risotto. However, they can be chewy and might mask the delightful broad bean flavour best savoured when the bean is shelled or double podded. Here is how to double pod them.
Herbs that go well with broad beans most are dill, savoury (Throumbi in Greek) and mint.
Broad beans LOVE strong, savoury, salty and sour flavours such as parmesan & pecorino cheese, feta and goats cheese, thick yoghurt and lemon/lemon zest.
You can eat the broad bean leaves too as Catherine Phipps taught me in her book Leaf. Just immerse the leaves in boiling water for 5 minutes. Dress in a balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette and serve with pecorino cheese!
Crisped mint broad beans with feta mash on crostini
We have been baking a lot of bread. When it goes stale we love slicing what is left very thinly and making crispy crostini to add seasonal toppings. For the Crostini all you need is finely sliced bread (up to 2cm) brushed with olive oil and toasted on a really hot non stick pan. Now for the topping.
Ingredients (three portions)
100g shelled and double podded green broad beans
6g fresh mint leaves (any kind)
15g butter (roughly a Tbsp.)
Pinch of salt
100g Feta cheese
30ml Extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
For the Feta mash: mash the feta, olive oil and pepper in a bowl until creamy. Set aside.
You will need around 300g broad beans in pods to yield 100g double podded beans.
Remove the bean seeds from the pod. Keep the pods aside to make delicious fritters on the same day.
Blanche the beans in boiling water for at least 3 minutes. Cool and remove the shell. Here is how to doit.
Melt the butter in a non-stick pan .
Before it browns add the whole (washed) mint leaves and crisp up on medium heat for a minute or two.
Before the leaves brown add the shelled and separated beans, a pinch of salt and stir well.
On each crostini spread a medium thick layer of the Feta mash and top with some beans.
"A big thank you to Poppy from Global Gardens for approaching me to work with broad beans grown at Global Gardens. Poppy and I have collaborated for years and even woman-ed collaborative stalls at Farmers’ markets together. Poppy’s love and curiosity for seeds and crops from around the globe provide daily inspiration for nomads like me. It is important to recognise the people behind such projects so I would like to recognise and thank Poppy for bringing Global Gardens to us as well as her curiosity, hard work and wealth of knowledge. She brings something special to my cooking and our community. Thanks Poppy for all your hard work at Global Gardens and for this crop share with the community."
Community featured recipe: Broad beans and quinoa salad
Global Gardens growing broad beans: tips
Vicia faba | Broad beans are in the pea and bean family Fabaceae. As leguminous plants, broad beans are considered fertility builders because they can fix nitrogen in the soil via root nodules.
Generally in Wales, broad beans are sown in late autumn (late Oct-Nov) and are ready to harvest within 30 weeks. They can also be sown in spring (March-April) for a faster growing crop ready to harvest within around 15 weeks. However spring sown broad beans can be more prone to black aphid.
Sow seeds 5cm deep and 15-20cm apart. At Global Gardens, we sow broad bean with phacelia, which acts as a deterrent to black fly as well as producing beautiful bee-friendly flowers.