BROAD BEAN BRUSCHETTA
They do look weird, but these slices of green-smudged toast are much-beloved of the River Cafe chefs, Nigella, and Mr Slater. With all those admirers, they're definitely worth a try...
Here's my version, but the basic blueprint - shelled beans, herbs, grated cheese and olive oil - translates into a whole platter of delicious variations.
1 French stick, sliced diagonally into 1" slices
500g broad beans, podded
25g grated parmesan
Good slug of olive oil
Drop the beans (in their grey skins) into boiling water and simmer for 1 minute. Drain in a colander over the sink and run cold water over them until cool enough to handle. Slip the skin off each bean, revealing a luminous green bean inside. Drop the skinned beans straight into a large bowl.
Finely grate the pamesan into the bowl and then shred the basil and add this. Use a fork to mush and slightly amalgamate the beans with the basil and parmesan - they'll probably be warm enough to melt it just slightly. Drizzle in enough olive oil to give a good, bright green mush. I make this on the rustic side with pieces of bean, but you can also whiz it in the processor for a finer puree (like hummus).
On a griddle brushed with olive oil, toast the slices of bread. Whip quickly onto a plate and top with the green beans. Drizzle with extra oil, if you like ("It's what they do in Italy!" insists husband, pouring spoonfuls over his). Serve straight away or at room temp.
VARIATIONS: Exchange the pamesan for feta; swap the basil for mint, or use a mixture of both. Puree in a processor for a smoother paste. Top with garlic or pea sprouts.