Get involved with this fabulous explosion of flavour, texture, colour and health. Broad beans are back in season and it's time to celebrate with a little North African je ne sais quoi. Actually that's not true, je sais que ce sont les epices qui font le plat.
Broad beans happen to be one of my absolute favourites!! But they do seem to have quite short seasons in Kenya (I'm still working out seasons for our fruit and veg here), so when they come along you need to jump on that band wagon super fast! And that means you need a variety of ways to eat them. To be honest, I am happy eating them plain, jacket on. But jacket off is also delicious and spicing them up makes for a more interesting palate riot.
So not only is this a mega rush to your palate, but what about the eye candy part? Isn't it beautiful? All those fabulous, vibrant, luminous colours inviting you to devour it in an instant. Before you start drooling on your keyboard, let me part with the recipe so you can rush off and make this salad yourself…
4 handfuls of fresh broad beans, podded
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
A handful of fresh mint
1 small red onion, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, bashed up in a mortar and pestle
1 pinch dried chilli
1 handful of breadcrumbs
300ml natural yoghurt
First: Take your podded beans and cook. Bear in mind smaller ones might cook quicker so if you want perfection, cook the smaller ones in a separate pan of boiling water. Don't add salt to the water because it makes the jackets very tough to get off! Cook for just a few minutes and then drain and lay out on a tray to cool. Remove the jackets if you like (recommended on the bigger ones), and place in a bowl with the juice of 1 lemon and about three times as much olive oil (ideally extra virgin). Season with salt and black pepper. Taste and adjust - adding more lemon juice if necessary. Add half the mint, finely sliced, into this mixture. Allow to rest and your beans will be dancing away in their lemony oil, soaking up all those amazing flavours.
Next: fry your onion, cumin seed & chilli in a little olive oil over a medium heat, until softened. When the onions start to turn a little golden, chuck in the breadcrumbs and cook until the crumbs have gone really crispy and golden. Season, and put to one side.
To serve: get a pretty plate - dollop a generous helping of yoghurt - spill the slithery beans on top of the yoghurt and sprinkle on some more mint - top with warm spicy crunchy bits et voila! C'est pret a manger!
Further thoughts: you could finely chop a preserved lemon into the yoghurt for even more Moroccan flavour. You could add a couple of rashers of streaky bacon to your crunchy mix, just add after you've started frying the onions and make sure you cook until crispy. Zest a bit more lemon on top at the end to give it that zing. Serve as an antipasti thing, or with fat pittas from Art Caffe. YUM!