Broad Beans grow easily from seed and are great to grow over the winter for a spring harvest. The seeds are big and you just poke them directly into the soil about 3cm down in autumn. I generally have 100% success rate with germination and this year I put them in a different place that I hadn’t tried before and they grew like triffids!
I was starting to get a bit worried because the plants just kept growing. There were lots of flowers and bees and bumblebees were visiting regularly but there didn’t seem to be any evidence of any beans forming. I remembered from past years that they didn’t do much until spring and sure enough once the weather started to warm up I could see the beans starting to form. A few more weeks and then I could get my first harvest and make my favourite risotto recipe.
Pea & Broad Bean Risotto
4 cups Vegetable Stock
1/2 cup wine (optional)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 small onion, finely diced
1 cup Arborio rice
3/4 cup peas (I had to use frozen as my peas didn’t survive the winter storms)
3/4 cup broad beans
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 tbsp crumbled feta (optional)
Bring stock and wine to a gentle simmer in a pan (or heat in microwave).
Heat the oil and butter in a large pan. Add the onion and stir until pale and soft. Add the rice and continue stirring until the grains are coated. Ladle in the stock, about a cup at a time, while stirring, waiting until almost all the stock has been absorbed before adding more.
After about 15 mins, add peas and beans. I usually add them with the last measure of stock. Keep cooking for a further 10 minutes or until the rice is tender but still a little firm. Stir through the parmesan (or other cheese if you prefer) and mint. Season to taste and serve with the feta crumbled over the top.