It’s not so much a recipe, but a reminder of this widely forgotten vegetable. Every July in Poland (sometimes end of June, depends on the weather) is the broad bean season. In Polish called bób, eaten while still very young and crispy, simply boiled in slightly salted water and served with melted butter. Nothing more filling and tasty on a summer afternoon!
Broad beans also called fava beans used to be very popular in the ancient Mediterranean and were a staple in the diet of ancient Romans. Nowadays, the broad bean career seems to be over. I haven’t seen them in any of the major UK’s supermarkets, which is a shame.
Broad beans are very rich in proteins, making them valuable vegetables for vegetarians and vegans. They are also rich in fibre and folates, are a source of many vitamins and minerals (vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin, and minerals like copper, iron, manganese, calcium and magnesium).
Let me take you on a small journey with broad beans: from field to plate.
My grandparents used to have a small farm, where they grew quite a few varieties of vegetables, broad beans among them.
Our journey starts in the field where broad beans need to be picked. Crucial: they taste the best when still very young. The older they get, the more their flavour will change when boiled. After collecting a bucket of beans (!), we drove home to deal with them. We set up our working station, my boyfriend, my 4-year old niece Zosia and me. Time to get the beans out of their shells.
To do so, you need to snap the green, outer shell and delicately take the beans out. You’ll need to be careful not to damage them with your fingernails. We prepared three buckets: one full of freshly picked beans, still in shells, second for the empty shells (which can be given to cows) and third – for the actual broad beans.
It does take a while to get them out, but imagine how rewarding it’ll be, eating beans you handpicked, hand de-shelled and cooked!
To cook the broad beans, boil a pot of water, adding a pinch of salt to it. When the water boils, drop the beans inside, stirring with a wooden spoon. It may take somewhere between 7-10 minutes for them to cook. The younger the beans are, the shorter it will take.
If it’s cooked, drain all of them over a strainer. To serve, simply melt some butter, pour it over the beans and voila! Perfect summer snack!