Monday, May 19, 2008

Go Broad Beans Go!

Oh. my. word. The first broad beans - the size of my smallest fingernail - are out. This is somewhat premature. I know. But the many books that are piled up beside my bed are always saying how wonderful it is if you grow your own beans, as you can pick them young and tiny, rather than huge and leathery.

Of course, the disadvantage of picking them young is that you get less podded weight (if you see what I mean) - a couple more weeks would allow them to fill out more. I mean, will allow them to fill out more. Because we do intend to let them grow properly now for a bit, before attacking them again.

But we couldn't resist a bagful on Saturday. Softened in butter with pine nuts and chopped sage, then stirred through spaghetti with crumbled feta, they were absolutely wonderful. Some wilted rocket would be a good addition to this.

2 handfuls broad beans - podded
1tbsp butter
2tbsp chopped sage

2tbsp pine nuts
100g crumbled feta
Spaghetti for 2 scant portions - cooked

Soften butter, throw in sage and pine nuts, then broad beans (pod alongside the pan). When the beans begin to change colour, immediately add the cooked spaghetti and stir to heat. Finally crumble in the feta - it will melt and vanish - and serve at once on hot plates.

Small they may be, but (if you make the effort to pick out a single bean while eating) each one tastes like Essence of Broad Bean. All the flavour's here: it just hasn't spread out into a larger surface area yet. Yum, yum, yum.

And this isn't intended to become a blog about growing, but I must also tell you about Oriental Saladini. We have tried growing lettuces before - Cos, Lollo Rossa, Arctic King, and numerous others - with no success whatsoever. But this Saladini mixture has come up trumps. It's Cut and Come Again, so you only need a strip of soil - sow thinly, and wait about 6 weeks before the first cut (possibly less time, now it's warmer). (If growing in the garden, try to choose a spot without nearby rocks or nooks where slugs gather. And surround each row, diligently, with used coffee grounds - this really works!) It's a lovely mixture of leaves, some soft and buttery, some peppery, some lime-green, some red. Alongside, if any more space is available to you, I'd recommend Swiss Chard - one of the coloured varieties - beautiful with its sunny stems. Then Rocket, any type, which is a truly trustworthy choice that never fails.

Okay. that's it. No more gardening stuff, at least until my pictures are downloaded!