OK, I understand
For years I’d been growing broad beans as green mulch. The beans are legumes so they have this little gardening trick of putting nitrogen back into the soil that helps other crops grow a little more vivaciously. I’d tried to eat them raw a few times but was often put off by the bitterness. I was a total broad bean rookie.
I’d had a friend try to convince me to eat them but I was still reluctant, then I had a broad bean salad made at this ace little place in Daylesford called Breakfast and Beer. It was a food triumph! Finally I had a way that I could enjoy these green beauties. I couldn’t wait for that season's beans to mature so I could try to make a meal with flavours similar to what I’d tasted at Ben’s.
There were three main flavours present – lemon, tarragon and a cheese. I didn’t know the amounts, volumes and couldn't pick the exact cheese that was used in the original recipe, but I figured playing around with this triple threat combo would garner a nice result!
I’m not too fussy with measurements or stating that you can only use parmigiano reggiano not pecorino or grano pardano. Use what you have in your fridge and what suits the budget, in any case the difference will give you a plethora of results.
If you don’t have French tarragon growing in the herb garden you can use chervil, or dill, it’s more so to bring the aniseed flavour to the dish, without it being too overpowering. A dish can be ruined with such a strong dominant flavour like aniseed so I add a little, taste, and then add more if I feel like it needs it.
This salad by no means is super fancy, but I think its special because most of the ingredients can be found in your backyard, meaning it's free and there isn't a preservative or nasty chemical to be seen. And the best part is that you can eat it all the way to Christmas and a little bit into the New Year!
Basket full of fresh broad beans
Handful of fresh French tarragon (or chervil)
Cheese (a sharp pecorino or parmigianino work equally well)
Extra virgin olive oil
I x lemon
I’ll pick a basket of fresh beans from the garden. Or if I’ve been raiding the broad bean patch and it’s a bit light, I’ll either buy them at the market or I’ll get them from other gardeners in my food community that don’t eat them and I’ll trade them with veg I have in excess.
The trick with these beans is to blanch them for a few minutes and then allow to cool, before peeling the sometimes bitter tasting skin from the beans. It may seem like a little more work than popping a meal in the microwave and pressing a button. But the food is real, fresh and free of nasties. If you have an ‘assistant’ be careful they’re little hands stay out of the bowl of blanched beans. They can disappear very quickly with little fiddle fingers tucking into your main salad ingredient.
Shave some cheese, I used a pecorino here. Chop the herb, I used chervil for this version. I also like to pick out some late winter greens to stretch out meal to make it more of a substantial salad. And I’ve discovered that rocket and mizuna add a little pepper element to the meal which I now love.
In a bowl add the blanched and peeled beans, the grated cheese, the salad greens, a glug of extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of half a lemon, a pinch of rock salt and crack some black pepper.
Mix and toss well, making sure all that flavoury goodness is well spread. Taste and add more key ingredients if you feel like it needs it, after all it is your meal so may as well make it to suit your taste buds.
I added some more lemon and more oil on this occasion, and then we sat down devoured it and made our ‘special food noises’. You know the ones, they sound like groans that should only be made behind closed doors!