Broad beans are a labour of love because of all the podding and peeling but they’re definitely worth it. I love their beautiful emerald colour and the way they can be smashed, mashed or left whole to serve with everything from lamb to pasta to cheese. They’re also truly seasonal - you just don’t see fresh broad beans in winter.
I’m excited this year because I’ve managed to grow broad bean vines to maturity. In past years the possums or the kids have got to them first. Having them in the garden means I’m able to pick some of the beans very young, before the skins become leathery and bitter, which means I can get away without peeling them. With these baby beans, you don’t even need to cook them to enjoy them: bust open a small pod and eat the beans raw. I love to eat these babies Italian style by dipping them in extra virgin olive oil, flaked salt and black pepper, eating the raw bean, then throwing down a chunk of parmesan or pecorino. There’s something so good about broad beans mixed with the acid notes of sharp cheese - try this combination in my beef carpaccio.
One of my favourite pasta dishes is linguini with garlic, chilli, lemon, chopped broad beans and prawns: it’s simple but sophisticated. I love to make smashed broad bean paste - it’s great with BBQ lamb cutlets or you can simply smear it on grilled bread topped with jamon or prosciutto. A delicious five-minute pasta is to toss broad bean paste, whole broad beans and smoked trout with rigatoni. To dress up a fish or meat dish, smear broad bean paste on the plate, dollop it with fromage frais or fresh ricotta, and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil.