The mainstay of my garden during the late winter and early spring has been broad beans – I just love them. I love the way they look in my garden and I love the way they taste.
The plants are about 2 metres high, full of delicately blushed flowers and abuzz with pollinators. It’s a strange thing, but they were flowering for a full month before the pollinators came and the pods started setting. Maybe the pollen/ovum have to reach a certain maturity before the bees start humming and are attracted to them – a bit like puberty?
Broad beans (or fava beans) are one of the oldest cultivated plants dating back 5,000 BC in Greece and the Mediterranean and you find them popping up there as dips, salads and cooked with other vegetables – like artichokes which are flourishing in the garden at the same time as broad beans. This is an extremely adaptable salad, but this is how have been making it for the past few weeks – and it’s delicious!
1 bunch watercress, washed (you can use rocket or small salad leaves instead)
1 cup shelled and steamed fresh broad beans.
1 avocado, cubed
1/2 cup shaved fennel (optional – put some chopped dill in as a substitute if you don’t have fennel)
1/4 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 tbs diced preserved lemon
2 tbs shaved pecorino (or parmesan) – put this on after the dressing
A light dressing made from e.v. olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice with salt and black peppper.
NOTE: When the broad beans are young you can use them freshly steamed without peeling them again. However, once they look grey and leathery when cooked you have to peel them again to reveal a luscious green bean underneath. This salad contains a mixture of both peeled and unpeeled.