This light and fresh flavoured salad showcases young broad beans in all their glory.
I've never grown broad beans before, despite the fact I love them. I love growing my own vegetables but broad beans take up a lot of garden space, and let's be honest, they're a bit of a labour of love in terms of podding. Each bean pod generally has somewhere between 3-6 broad beans which each have to be removed by hand.
Luckily I have a few people in my life who are happy to gift me the odd supermarket bag full. Which is just enough to make a salad. Every time I pod broad beans and survey the pile of empty pods I admit to being just a little bit shocked at nature's uncharacteristic inefficiency.
Which brings me to child labour. It's totally justified when faced with a mountain of broad beans, right?
Broad beans are popular in many countries and cuisines, and also known as faba, field, bell or tic beans. They're best eaten while young and tender, when their flavour is sweet and mild and their texture light. Older broad beans (and frozen broad beans) are best double podded - that is blanched, then popped out of each individual skin (which can be a bit tough) to reveal the softer, brighter interior. I enjoy them in salads or falafel, however I'm sure there are as many uses for broad beans as there are cultures which prize them.
This salad is a simple but classic combination of broad beans with the bold flavours of olive oil, lemon and mint. I tossed them with Israeli couscous, basically to make them go further! Though the couscous is delicious in its own right, too.
This is definitely a salad for broad bean lovers. If you're on the fence, then to be honest this probably isn't the one for you as they are absolutely front and centre with nowhere to hide. You could use this as a side dish with virtually any protein, and I think it would be particularly smashing with some barbecued halloumi, or a salty feta (either dairy based or a vegan almond feta). You could also add in a handful of yellow and red cherry tomatoes and turn the whole thing into a colourful fiesta on your plate.
- 2 tsp + 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 ½ cups Israeli couscous (also known as pearl couscous)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 2 cups broad beans
- Zest and juice of one lemon approx. 3-4 tbsp lemon juice
- 2-3 sprigs of mint approx. ½ cup of loose mint leaves
- Heat 2 tsp of olive oil in a saucepan. Add couscous, stir to coat then toast over medium heat for a few minutes.
- Add oregano, garlic, a good grind of salt and pepper, and 1 ¾ cups of water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until almost all of the liquid is gone. Cover and set aside for another 7 minutes, then remove lid and cool.
- Stir 1 tbsp olive oil, lemon zest and juice through the couscous.
- Blanch broad beans in boiling water for 3-4 minutes, then run under cold water to cool immediately. Add to the couscous.
- Finely slice some of the mint and stir through, reserving the rest for garnish.
- Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Serves 8 as a side dish, or 4 as a more substantial part of a meal.