Hooray for broad beans


Unbelievable and astounding. Broad beans are delicious. Growing up in the 60s you wouldn’t have known it. Huge, horrible things, they were boiled for too long and served on a plate in a greyish mass as punishment. Every adult in New Zealand was in on it, especially mothers.

Decades later my gardening buddy Barry proudly showed me his impressive crop and assured me they are delectable if eaten when tiny. It took courage to believe him, he’s not known as tricky Barry for nothing (and there was that incident with the magpie) but I took some home and got cooking.

For a start, they were bright green, not an ominous pale grey colour. They were little, about the size of a finger nail. And my, what an exquisite flavour. They really are delectable and I am now addicted and I wouldn’t be without them in the garden or kitchen.

They can be sown in Spring, Autumn and Winter and are tough survivors. Once planted they can be left to fend for themselves until harvest comes. Then the trick is to pick them good and early, before they turn into culinary monsters.

They produce well, too. We’re still eating some sown before winter and now I can plant one more crop for summer treats.

They can be boiled quickly and served with a grinding of pepper and a dollop of butter.
Better yet heat a little oil in a frypan, chop a goodly amount of garlic and a tiny bit of chilli and fry with the little beans. Not too long, now. Season and add a small amount of chopped coriander. A grating of Parmesan is nice.

Add to other stir fried dishes – they pack a delightful flavour punch. We used them instead of capers in a pasta dish the other evening, and they were a treat.

But never, ever feed them to small children if the beans are overgrown and grey.

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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

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