Bean looking for some inspiration
Life on the allotment with Sheena Grant
For most of the time it was not actually a problem at all as it was easy to avoid. But that’s all changed since I’ve taken on a share in an allotment.
My dilemma is this: if you’re going to grow your own seasonal produce how do you avoid broad beans? And given that you can’t - or perhaps that you feel you shouldn’t - is there anyway of making a broad been interesting, or at least edible?
I know all about their virtues: they’re full of protein, like other legumes they are a green manure, feeding nitrogen to the soil to make it more fertile and better still, they’re easy to grow. But sadly, that’s not enough to make me warm to them.
I’ve had two bags full of them in my freezer for several weeks now but every time I think about cooking them there always seems to be something else that really ought to be eaten first.
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Perhaps its childhood memories that are putting me off but to me broad beans mean something dry and floury encased in a rather bitter-tasting rubbery skin. Yuk! How could this appeal to anyone with even the tiniest range of culinary options open to them?
The soilmate doesn’t have the same problem. She loves broad beans and has a tasty little salad recipe she uses them in. She keeps offering to let me have it but I haven’t pressed her: I’d feel duty-bound to prepare the dish if I did and I’m not sure I’m ready for that yet.
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Things are so bad that on this occasion even Jamie Oliver has failed to inspire me. That’s almost unheard of.
In his write-up on peas and beans for his book dedicated to growing your own and then cooking it, Jamie uses words such as “exciting” and “genius” to describe broad beans.
He even loves the velvety pouch in which the beans grow. I don’t. Something about that same velvety pouch makes me shudder.
Jamie tries to entice me to sprinkle my broad beans on top of stews, he wants me to stir them into pasta sauces and add them to salads. In Italy, he says, plates of pecorino cheese are served with unpodded young broad beans to be “enjoyed” together as a nibble before dinner.
You’re having a laugh, surely Jamie!
I’m sceptical about his broad bean recipes too. There are too many broad beans involved.
But I will soon have to face my demons - I’ll need the freezer space if nothing else.
Things would be bad enough if it was just my own opposition I had to overcome but I also have the four-year-old to contend with and as he is starting to eye anything that does not come out of a packet with deep suspicion I have my work cut out. When you have to use bribery to get someone to eat strawberries, what hope is there for broad beans?
My husband is quick to remind me that broad beans were one of the reasons I gave up our weekly organic vegetable box a few years ago. He’s right. Perhaps the broad beans can stay in the freezer for a bit longer. After all, there are still a lot of peas to eat...