True love shouldn't be measured in bunches of flowers and bottles of champagne, but how many broad beans you're prepared to double pod for someone.
Broad beans are marvellous things; creamy, sweet and with the most vibrant green colour. In order to see them at their best - unless they're baby beans no bigger than a little fingernail - you really need to remove not just the outer pod, but the leathery grey jackets too.
This is pretty tedious prep, I plodded through my podding while watching the British Open on TV (although some may argue golf is equally boring!), but it will reward you with a beautiful bounty that will shine in any dish you use them in. As well as making a great addition to summery salads, a handful of broad beans go very nicely with bacon, in a simple omelette or tossed into pasta.
I got my beans for this recipe from my local PYO. I already had plans to use them with a wheel of Manchego I had carted back from Spain, along with some fresh mint from the garden. A patch of baby carrots, about the length of a index finger, were too lovely to pass by, and so I threw a few of them in too. As well as adding a splash of vibrant orange they provided a welcome bitterness and crunch.
As with most salads, this is an easily adaptable dish. The cheese can be swapped for a goat, feta, or an English sheep's cheese like Berkswell. Mint can be swapped for some summery basil, dill or parsley, and even the beans, star of the show, can be swapped for a handful of fresh peas.
Broad Beans, Baby Carrots, Mint and Manchego
Take a large handful of broad beans per person and lightly steam for a few minutes.
Allow beans to cool slightly and pod, removing grey skin if necessary.
While podding beans, steam a few baby carrots per person so they retain a slight crunch.
Put warm veg into a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, sherry vinegar. Add chopped mint and season well.
Allow to sit and marinade for 15 minutes, then spread veg on a large plate and cover with wafer thin slices of manchego. (a potato peeler is the best thing for this)
Drizzle with more oil and mint leaves and serve.