I think I’ve become slightly obsessed with Broad Beans (Fava Beans). I got about 4 or 5 reasonable harvests from my plants this year and its left me wanting more. I harvested the last of the beans yesterday before pulling the plants. Actually I chopped them off at ground level to try and keep the nitrogen in the soil. Anyway to honour a crop I’ve really enjoyed this year I thought it only appropriate to devote a top 5 to it. These are the flavours I think work best with Broad Beans.
1. Garlic – The broad bean season in Melbourne roughly co-incides with garlic season. For early crops there’s green garlic, later crops would be mature at about the same time as the start of the fresh garlic season. Green or fresh, it doesn’t really matter as both work fabulously with broad beans.
2. Feta (or other sheep or goats cheese) – I think the lovely saltiness of Feta and Haloumi work particularly well with Broad Beans. I’m not a fan of goats cheese personally but I’m lead to believe the combination works really well. My favourite broad bean dish is a combination of Broad Beans, garlic, mint and feta dressed with extra virgin olive oil and ideally eaten atop toast made with olive bread. I simply cannot recommend the combination highly enough.
3. I’ve already mentioned mint above but I’m going to mention it again as I really like the combination of mint with broad beans. Again its a highly seasonal combination with both being at their best in Melbourne’s Spring. Its hard to say why mint works so well with broad beans but it does.
4. Smoked meat or fish. My preference here is for smoked trout, but bacon is also good as is chorizo sausage. A lovely pasta dish includes smoked trout or bacon, garlic, lemon rind, pine nuts and broad beans, dressed with extra virgin olive oil. The freshness of the lemon and the beans balance the richness of the bacon or trout really well.
5. Rice – I wondered about this – is rice really a flavour per se? Its certainly textural, it certainly has a taste but is its taste really strong enough to be called a flavour? Regardless of the answer to that question many of my favourite broad bean dishes are rice based or served with rice. I love broad beans in paella. I love them mixed through rice to be served with a chickpea (and chorizo) stew. And I love them mixed through rice with loads of herbs and butter melted through it. Decadent yes but also delicious.
And that was my broad bean top 5 – now I just have to wait another year before I can enjoy them all again. I do use the frozen ones occasionally but it just isn’t the same. Finally for any locals reading, the falafel at Half Moon Cafe in Coburg Mall is (according to Cheap Eats amongst other sources) made with broad beans rather than chickpeas and its really, really good. Perhaps I’ll just have to get my broad bean fix there while I await my next crop.
Time to check out what The New Good Life has for us this week.