Broad Beans, and what comes after?

BroadBeanDwarf

I don’t really like broad beans.
OK, I don’t really like the beans themselves, but I always grow the plants – they are so pretty with their purple flowers and quick growing habit.
They fix nitrogen into the soil, so I always chop them off an inch above the soil when I do harvest them, rather than disturb the roots by pulling them up. Sometimes, I’m luckier to get a smaller secondary crop later in the season.

I’m already thinking into the future for these beds. Brassicas are the next in the rotation plan – they are nitrogen hungry so use a lot of the nitrogen brought to the top soil by the beans. I love the purple sprouting broccoli, so my seeds were sown into seedtrays inside a few weeks ago, and should be ready to plant out by the time I chop the beans.

So what will I do with the beans this year? I set a facebook challenge to my gardening and cooking friends to find the best broad bean recipes – I need to be convinced!
This is the one I shall be trying out in a few weeks, I’ll report back to let you know if it passes muster.

Broad Bean Hummus

Ingredients
450g/1lb fresh broad beans
100g/3½ oz tinned chickpeas (save 6 tbsp of the liquid from the can)
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 heaped tbsp tahini
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp salt
pinch ground cumin
pinch ground white pepper
pinch caster sugar (optional)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Cook the podded broad beans in a pan of boiling, salted water for a minute or two, or until tender. Drain and cool in iced water. This makes the next step much easier.

Make a cup of tea, put the radio on and remove the skin from the bright green beans.

Put all the ingredients into a food processor and smoosh until completely combined.

Serve with crackers, carrot sticks or felafels.

A perfect pot luck lunch offering

In a week that has seen gale force winds, snow, hail and a return to work – what can I have possibly eaten from my garden? You’d be surprised.

On day two back at work we had a pot luck lunch. You know that thing where people bring in food and share? That.

Fresh ripe red cherry tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes

 

Our theme this month was Mediterranean. I scoured the fridge and pantry for inspiration. I found lots of dried rosemary and oregano, a jar of passata from the last of the summer tomatoes and my final crown prince squash. What’s more Mediterranean than ratatouille?

Outside, the bay tree saplings are hanging on, so I took just a couple of leaves from them to add to the flavour, and I found my stash of dried shiitake mushrooms.

Shiitakes are really quite easy to grow here in wet mild Mid Wales. I lived on a farm that produced these commercially when my kids were small, and have grown them ever since. They are really easy to dry, and seem to last forever. When dry, they add a lovely smoky depth to sauces, ragouts and vegetarian stock – although I’m not so keen on them as a mushroom, as they have quite a chewy, meaty texture.

Winter Ratatouille

The trick to a good ratatouille is to roast the veg individually, then combine in a good thick herby tomato sauce.

Ingredients (made enough for 15)

1 small crown prince squash (or 1 large butternut), peeled and cut into inch square pieces

6 peppers, cut into large chunks

4 medium onions, cut into quarters

4 courgettes, cut into half moon shapes about the thickness of a £1 coin

2 aubergines, thinly sliced

100ml olive oil

1 bulb of garlic, peeled and lightly crushed

2 shiitake mushrooms

Passata, at least 1 litre

1 tbs balsamic vinegar (optional)

Sea salt

Rosemary

Oregano

Directions

Preheat the oven to 200C

Lay out each of the veg into separate baking trays, putting the full head of garlic onto the same tray as the peppers.

Drizzle approx. 1tbs (25ml) olive oil over each veg (squash, garlic & peppers, onions, courgettes & aubergines) and a pinch of sea salt.

Roast each veg tray until cooked – about 20 mins for most, a bit longer for the squash.

Combine all veg in a large pan (I used one of my jam pans for this).

Cover with passata and add the shiitake and balsamic, if using.

Simmer gently for 30 mins.

Taste, season (try adding a tsp or two of sugar here, it intensifies the taste of the tomatoes) and serve with crusty bread and salad.