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 simply bób, is a beautiful summer snack. 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 ancient Mediterranean, making the base of the diet of ancient Romans. Nowadays, the broad bean career seems to be over. I haven’t seen them being sold in any of major UK’s supermarkets, which probably means people simply don’t consume it anymore.
Which is a real shame! Broad beans are very rich in proteins, making them valuable vegetables for vegetarians and vegans. Apart from that, they are also rich in fiber and folates. If that’s not enough, they also are a source of many vitamins and minerals, like vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin, and minerals like copper, iron, manganese, calcium and magnesium.
Another advantage of eating broad beans is the fact that they are very filling. Making them, again, a perfect diet filler for vegans and vegetarians. I have been trying to be vegetarian for the last week and the constant feeling of hunger is the only disadvantage. A bowl full of tender broad beans is an answer ^^
Let me take you on a small journey with broad beans: from field to plate.
My grandparents have a little farm, they keep some animals like cows, pigs and chickens and also grow vegetables, like beans, potatoes, onions, carrots, parsnips, beetroots, garlic, cabbage and few other. Thanks to that, I grew up eating only organic veg, grown by my own family. That also gave me a chance to acquire knowledge of farming, which turned out to be something rare here, in England (at least in urban areas). I spent endless hours explaining to my boyfriend how certain vegetables grow, from seed to plant and then, harvest. Unfortunately, my one and only attempt of growing veg in England was a total fiasco. In my defence, I do not have a piece of land so I had to try to grow it in plastic flower pots, and also, I had no way to provide them with enough sunlight (my windows face North, and are the only windows I could use for growing). Hence, I wasn’t really able to impress my boyfriend with homegrown onions or dill.
Anyway, our journey starts in the field where broad beans need to be collected from the plants. 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 get the beans out. You need to be careful not to damage the beans with your fingernails.
We prepared three buckets: one full of freshly picked beans, still in shells, second for the empty shells (which can be fed to the 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 by yourself.
When the job of getting the beans out of shells is over, time to cook them.
In order to do so, boil a big pot of water, adding a pinch of salt to it. When the water boils, drop the beans inside, stirring them with a wooden spoon occasionally. It may take somewhere between 10-15 minutes for the beans to cook. The younger the beans are, the shorter it will take. You need to taste one of the beans after about 10 minutes.
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 lunch snack ^^