Last year I wrote about how my broad beans had turned into triffids and had started to take over the garden. Earlier this year I proudly showed how I had tamed the broad beans in this winter’s veggie garden and had them growing straight upwards using garden stakes and string. Well I gloated too soon. Now I am having to use a ladder to pick my broad beans! And they have burst out of the string and are leaning all over my raspberries.
But I can’t really complain as they are producing lots of delicious broad beans, they fix lots of nitrogen in the soil and they make sure that I can’t plant my tomatoes too early (I want to put them in that spot to get a good rotation going). I pick my broad beans quite young so that the beans are only about pea size or a little bigger so that they are still nice and tender. I have horrible memories of the tough furry outer part of the bean (not the pod) that goes grey when you cook it and sticks to the roof of your mouth. You can peel that bit off as well and just use the tender inner part but I’m basically lazy and it seems like too much like hard work to have to peel them twice.
My first broad bean dish of the season was Pasta with Mushrooms and Broad Beans. It’s even better if you’ve picked the mushrooms yourself as well or grown them at home. You can serve it as a vegetarian dish or as a side dish. I scale it up or down to suit the occasion or the available ingredients.
1/2 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
juice and finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1/2 tsp chilli flakes or powder (optional but gives a nice zing)
12 large flat mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano &/or thyme leaves (or any combination of herbs you like)
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Cook pasta according to packet instructions. While pasta is cooking, gently heat oil in a large frypan. Add garlic, lemon zest and chilli and cook over lowish heat until garlic is very lightly golden. Add mushrooms and broad beans and cook until the mushroom juices have drained and they just start to brown.
Add to the drained pasta with lemon juice, herbs, parmesan, salt and pepper and toss to combine. Serve with extra parmesan to sprinkle over.