Broad-beans are, in my opinion, the blandest, most useless, most time-consuming waste-of-space disgusting vegetable there is, and it is a mystery to my why anyone would eat them, let alone plant them.
Nevertheless, if you ever do find yourself in the situation where you have a couple of kilos of broad-beans to use up, here are a few hints on how to do it.
The first thing you should know is that a lot of raw broad-beans in a basket does not mean a lot of broad-beans on the table. I suppose that’s the one blessing in the whole situation.
Before you even start to think about cooking broad-beans, you need to prepare them. That means shelling them, blanching them, and peeling them. The steps are fairly simple, but time-consuming.
First, shell them in the same way you’d shell peas, except with a little more effort. While pea-pods just crack easily open, revealing the delicious, sweet, ready-to-eat peas, broad-beans need to be prised open reluctantly, and the individual beans (broad-peas) tugged from the fluff therein. 1kg of raw beans renders about 400g of shelled peas.
To blanche them, add a little vinegar, salt and lemon juice to the water. You don’t have to, but it’s best to begin instilling some flavour into the floury blandness as early as possible. Leave them for a bit and let them come to the boil for a few minutes.
Drain them and run them under cold water to cool them down so you can handle them. Peeling the individual broad-peas is fairly easy. Insert a thumb-nail into the fat, bulbous bit where it used to attach to the pod, and pull it away to create a hole out of which the actual meaty bit can slide. It will just pop out easily, especially with the application of a little pressure at the base of the pea. But it does take a while. It takes me about half an hour to peel that which was 1kg of raw beans – and it results in about 200g of beans.
If you want, you can serve them like that – if you think people will appreciate the khaki-coloured mass with the taste and texture of a slightly al-dente, thoroughly disappointing overcooked pea.
I thought not. So what you want to do is season it. A lot. With whatever you want. Hugh Long-Surname of River Cottage recommends frying with spring onions in olive oil and Worcestershire sauce. Egyptians seem to prefer them with garlic, lemon juice and parsley. Something that went down reasonably well here was frying it with chopped spring onion, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, a scoop of lemon butter, and some chopped green herbs. It’s really up to you, I think.
Of course, you could just not plant the silly things in the first place.