Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

15.10.06

A Shorter History of the Bean.

Broad beans were a kitchen staple 6000 years BC, Wikipedia tells me, but what would Wikipedia know about 6000 years BC? It's only been around since, what? Two years ago? Five?

However, I have solid evidence that they have been around for at least 45 years; because my mother has been cooking them for that long. We grew up with broad beans as a side dish to a main course, for example, roast mutton. My mother cooked the beans for ages. She probably put them on when the roast went into the oven and they were served up next to mashed potatoes and a couple of thick slices of delicious roast mutton (which was drowned in mint sauce made from mint picked fresh from the garden and combined with boiling water, sugar and brown vinegar) and the beans sat there, grizzled and wrinkled like tiny old footballs and they squeaked when we ate them.

These days we no longer cook our broad beans until they are like old footballs; but my mother still does. That's OK, she still goes into the bank to get money and listens to an old fashioned wireless radio. You can't teach some people. They won't learn. I've given up telling her.

Pasta shells with broad beans and walnuts.

Boil a generous cupful of beans for a few minutes, just until they turn bright green and swell. Drain and return them to the pan with some olive oil, a finely chopped clove of garlic, the juice of half a lemon and some ground pepper. Fry on low heat for five minutes.

Cook your pasta shells - cochiglione - and add some small florets of cauliflower towards the end. Meanwhile, warm some halved walnuts in a pan ensuring they don't burn but just develop a nice deep tan. Then drain the pasta and cauliflower, toss the walnuts through, plate and top with the beans along with the lemon juice and garlic. Top with crumbled or grated cheese. I used a crumbly kefalograviera.

Serve with some very fresh crusty bread and a nice chilled Hunter Valley semillon if you can lay your hands on a bottle.

5 comments:

jo said...

Oh how I love them. Husband introduced them to me upn his arrival and now we eagerly await the very few weeks in Spring when we can get them.
There is a particular fruit and veg vendor who caters a bit to the italian community and we can reliably find them there.
Such a pain to prepare, as they are usually large enough for us to nee to remove the 'skin' but oh so worth it.

neil said...

One person's pain is anothers therapy.

I've heard a few people rave about baby broad beans but I've never been a fan, give them to me big and fat!

Roast mutton and mint sauce are best friends ever. Mint is easy to get, pity about the mutton.

kitchen hand said...

I actually find them easier to prepare than, for example, peeling potatoes, Jo. But I'm a peelingophobe. I hate peeling things.

I'm with you on the fat ones, Neil. And I wonder how much mutton gets through as lamb. Mutton is wonderful, aromatic and delicious.

Dr. Alice said...

1. I'm assuming 'broad' beans are the same as fava beans?

2. And if they are, have you had them with liver and a nice Chianti?

kitchen hand said...

1. Dr Alice, Vicia faba: broad bean, fava bean, faba bean, horse bean, field bean or tic bean.

2. No, I haven't! (In fact, even though I know the quote, I haven't seen the movie. It's one of a great number of famous films I have yet to see, along with the entire Star Wars series, Lord of the Rings series and Harry Potter series. Etc.)