Bring on the broad beans


BEAN AND GONE? Bring back the taste of summer with broad beans.

Redmond Cabot

The stunning weather we enjoyed at the beginning of summer when our lives changed dramatically has been replaced by rainy summer days as we struggle to regain any normality.
To enjoy life as best as possible and to celebrate the Brunette’s roundy birthday we decamped to Mulranny Hotel, where we were married eleven years ago. The joys of having cooked food handed to you without any washing up cannot be over-emphasised!
On the last morning at breakfast, I looked out the window at the beautiful view. The moment was somewhat ruined, however, when an already brown sycamore leaf fell from its branch and tumbled downwards. Mid- August and the leaves are shedding. Then last week’s storm made it feel like summer was well and truly over.
Now, it’s not yet time to drag out the old stew recipes or the slow cooker, but certainly meals may be becoming a little heartier with the drop in temperature (no doubt an Indian summer awaits us in September, so let’s not jinx it). Cousin Eoin is selling vegetable boxes from his half-acre plot outside Ballisodare. Last week we picked up broad beans, lettuce, potatoes, onions and cabbage. This is where I hold up my hands and admit that I ruined our potato crop at Westport’s Deerpark.
We sprayed once – not enough we know now – and blight came to knock them down in two days. We salvaged some of the Roosters, but you would be amazed how quickly some turned to mush. Thank God for modern times; spare a thought for our ancients.

Broad beans in pasta with asparagus
While looking for a good dish to use the broad beans in I came across this recipe from Catherine Fulvio that includes fennel, but I made it without. The lemon and herbs provide a suitable backdrop to creamy, green vegetables.

What you need

  • 200g broad beans
  • 15 asparagus shoots
  • 6 spring onions sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 300ml cream
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 12 lasagne pasta sheets
  • 1 lemon
  • Chopped herbs
  • Olive oil
  • Seasoning
  • Crumbly ricotta cheese to dress the dish

What you do
Cook the broad beans and asparagus for three minutes in salted water, strain and place in cold water (I never peel the skin of broad beans – never enough time!).
Fry the spring onions in a pan with oil until softened, add the garlic, and cook for another minute. Add the zest of one lemon, and the white wine, and cook for two minutes on medium-high heat. Add the cream, bring to a boil and simmer. Season, and then add the cooked and cooled beans and asparagus.
Cook the lasagna sheets in well-salted boiling water, strain and cut in half. On your dining plate lay one piece of lasagna sheet. With a slotted spoon place bean mixture over pasta, add another sheet, then the beans mix with creamy sauce, then another sheet, and then lay three asparagus pieces on top. About three layers of pasta per plate should do it. Sprinkle with ricotta, stand back and admire your work, and tuck in!

Fava feta frittata
Broad beans, which are also known as fava beans, are delicious when cooked with cheese – try some in an omelette or frittata for a simple, filling meal. Salty feta is a great cheese to choose, complimenting the sweet butteriness of the broad beans perfectly.  

What you need

  • 200g broad beans
  • 1 red onion peeled and chopped
  • 6 free-range eggs
  • 100g feta cheese crumbled
  • Olive oil
  • Seasoning

What you do
Cook and cool the beans as in the previous recipe. Cook the onion in a frying pan with olive oil until well softened over low heat. Add pinch of salt.
Whisk the eggs until they’re as fluffy and airy as you can make them, then season. Turn the heat up to medium, add egg and beans to the onions. Stir well, then sprinkle with crumbled feta and cook for two to three minutes. Transfer to a pre-heated grill and cook for another three minutes or until the top side is firm and browned. Remove, place plate over the pan, flip upside down, and then bring plate to table, where you can cut and serve wedges of Frittata to willing diners. Nice to have with crusty breads. Nyum nyum.

Redmond Cabot has a lifelong interest in food. In 2010 he began selling fresh food sauces at Westport Country Market, open every Thursday at the Old Railway Hotel, North Mall, Westport, 7.30am-1pm.