In which I take you through the development of my relationship with broad beans, and conclude with a bonus recipe at the end!
Children are given things to do as trainer projects, at least in my experience of being a child. In my case scones, pikelets and scrambled eggs where the first things that I can remember cooking. I was taught to knit and the first thing that I knitted was a scarf – with only one stitch. Success is more likely than failure. In the garden I was shown how to plant geraniums, pumpkins and broad beans.
These are prolific plants and hard to kill. With geraniums you break a bit off and put it into a pot with dirt in it. With both broad beans and pumpkins you can take seeds from the food as it is prepared / eaten, dry the seeds on the kitchen window sill and then either put the seeds into a pot outside the back door or straight into the vege garden. Make sure the ground is moist when they finally go into the vege garden and then walk away and come back in about six weeks to make sure they’re still growing. After about four months there is enough produce to feed you and all your neighbours.
But the problem is that pumpkin and broad beans are disgusting, or so I thought for the first 85% (1) of my life.
I learned to enjoy pumpkin, most recently in roast pumpkin soup with garlic, nutmeg and a hint of paprika. But I steered clear of broad beans. I regarded them basically as a weed and would no more eat broad beans than I would those paddy melons that grow on the edge of the road and look terrific but are so bitter they are inedible. And probably poisonous.
Then last year I came to France.
I was at the local vege shop, marking off my errands between the boucherie (butcher), the fromagerie (cheese), and the boulongerie (baguettes). I was struggling not buy a sample of each vegetable because it all looked so good until I saw … a big display of …. BROAD BEANS. Yuck! !! Only in French they are called fèves.
I was in the same northern hemisphere recipe season as a U.S. blog that I’d just started following (Kitchn) and they had featured a lesson on how to prepare fava beans. In the picture they looked like edamame, which is a Japanese preparation of soy beans and given the chance and a beer I could eat about my own body weight of them.
Connecting the dots, I guessed that fèves are the same thing as fava beans which are the same thing as broad beans, and I bought some.
Its bit like ‘cabretta’ and goat. Cabretta sound fabulous and I would choose it over something else at a restaurant but goat, like paddy melons, sounds like road kill.
So it turns out that the way to prepare BROAD BEANS is to, obviously, take them out of their pods but then cook them in salty boiling water for about three minutes, cool them in icy cold water and then peel them. The beans have a protective outer layer which is pretty waxy and they taste really good if you take that outer skin off. And they look like edamame – actually taste a bit like it as well.
Who knew! I’d better tell Mum.
Back in Australia and in summer, I found a recipe for broad beans with brown rice and in case you are interested in the taste revolution this is it with minimum complications :
Fèves and Brown Rice Salad
250g Broad (Fava) Beans (frozen, or fresh in season & peeled)
1 clove garlic
1tbspn olive oil
½ tspn of ground cumin
150ml vegetable or chicken stock
250g cooked microwave brown rice, or half to a third of a cup of uncooked brown rice.
A few tablespoons of wild rice – not too much!
6tbspn chopped mixed herbs – parsley, coriander, chives, mint but mainly parsley
Juice of ½ lemon
A quantity of rocket leaves
So note the roughly equal amounts of broad beans and cooked rice.
Equal amounts of cooked rice and broad beans. Less rather than more stock, if there is no measuring cup. I’m a bit light on implements and space in a small apartments and don’t have anything to measure with. (150m = 10 tbspns).
Put the beans in a pan with the garlic, oil, spices and the stock. Bring to a simmer, half cover and cook for 10-12 minutes.
Check on the instructions, but you might need to boil wild rice for about ten minutes before adding brown rice.
Cook the rice, according to pack instructions, & tip into a bowl.
Add the beans with the stock left in the pan, then mix in the herbs and seasoning. Add the lemon juice. Top with rocket leaves.
(1) Not an exact calculation.
Betty Carlson says
Even after living in France for nearly 25 years, I have not developed much fondness for fava beans. They are pretty though.
Thank you for your comment on my blog! I love the #AllAboutFrance link-up idea!
Hi Betty, my memories of broad beans as a child are terrible. Mum was pretty good and didn’t make me eat them, but it was disappointing when they are so easy to grow! I look forward to more of your blogs.
I heart fava beans.. one day will make you some Arabic ‘Foul Medammes’ mmmm
Nom, nom. The dried ones with lots of salt! I’ve just cooked a new batch this afternoon, not dried but still with lots of salt. Mmmm :). Foul Medammes hahaha.
Hahahaha! Excellent name.
Phoebe @ Lou Messugo says
I hated broad beans as a kid, for me they were bitter cardboard but I love them now. I don’t know why they were so bad back in the 70s in England – surely it wasn’t the way my mum prepared them?!! But now I regularly cook with them IN SEASON of course (or occasionally frozen) and even my kids like them.
Good to meet you on #AllaboutFrance link up. Check out my post on the link up if you like the feves now as I made an apero cake with them! And in Picard in France you can buy them frozen and ready shelled!
Good to meet you too Caro. I’ll definately look up the receipe for apero cake. Tho’ I’m in India for the next couple of months for work. I think I should be able to get frozen feve in St Etienne as well so will give it a try when I’m back. Thanks for reading the blog.
I love feves since living in France. great post. Good to be linked up on #AllAboutFrance. You can buy de-shelled feves frozen in Picard! Take a look at my link on #AllAboutFrance linked up page for a recipe for Apero cake using feves!
I’m like every one else, hated them when I was you but after living in France for a while i’ve grown to like them. Your recipe looks great.
Thanks Diane. Have you heard about the 5:2 diet? I was doing it for a few months last year and looking for low calorie meals and that one came up. Trouble is eating only a small quantity!
I wonder why these beans are so child “unfriendly”! I love them now that I am an “old duck” – and have copied your recipe and looking forward to lunch! I think there is something lovely about ‘popping the fresh ones out of their skins’ – tiny, bright green and new!
By the way, one of my favourite shops in Suffolk [UK] is Aggie B !!
Hi Lisa, thanks for dropping by! Yes – isn’t it strange that they are so unpopular with children. Aggie B – great minds ;).