Friday, 29 July 2011

Broad Beans, Baby Carrots, Mint and Manchego

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.

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