Cookery Quote
Whenever you see crossed chives you are in trouble
We should all be eating less meat and better meat
Never eat anything bigger than your head

Broad beans meanz delicious

As the differences between the seasons blur, the broad bean remains one of the jewels in the greengrocer’s crown. Businessmen on the other side of the world may have flooded our supermarkets with asparagus cut in Mexico a week or so before the British crop was ready, but now we should be rejoicing in the first young broad beans. It is ironic that, when dried, the broad bean becomes the fava bean, popular in the Middle East and Mediterranean as a humble food for peasant farmers that would last through even the toughest winter. When eaten young, the broad bean that was once a dull staple is building up its own enthusiastic following. Sad obsessive that I am, Saturday and Sunday mornings sees me snuffling through a stack of newspapers and tearing out all the material relating to food and restaurants which I then file by date. This means that were you to ask what food writers were writing about last June (or indeed what were their preoccupations in June 2009!) it would all be at my fingertips. Currently broad beans are “it”. There are several column inches citing the charming Italian habit of serving young broad beans raw with Pecorino cheese; or as a bruschetta; or with pasta. The first broad beans are sweet and almost nutty, (some cooks even advocate cooking them in their furry pods) but I want mine shelled, steamed and slathered with butter,
salt and ground black pepper. Crucially I want the skins left on. In the papers that I have rummaged through this morning the split is about 4 to 1 in favour of taking the skins off each bean. This is a cheffy conceit as the viridian green beanlets have buckets of plate appeal. I leave the skins on because the beans taste better – there is an almost bitter taste from the skins that I relish. I am even prepared to advocate leaving the skins on old, grey, broad beans, these senior beans have a completely different character when you leave the skins on. Podding the small, early, broad beans is more challenging than dealing with the main crop but you can console yourself by eating a few raw – try teaming them with a sliver of Caerphilly cheese or some crumbly Lancashire. If you are fond of pasta, steam some small broad beans (in their skins) until they firm up; cut some smoked streaky bacon into lardons and fry until crisp in a pan with a large lump of butter; cook enough tagliatelle for your diners; stir the beans into the bacon and butter; mix the tagliatelle and the beans and bacon. If you have any, chop up a big bunch of lovage and add it to the pasta. If you are cheese addict dress each plate with your favourite hard cheese grated finely – a cheese with a fruity tang works well here. Remember, skins on!
Charles Campion - Sunday 25th May 2014

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