Broad beans have taken over my mother’s vegetable garden. Literally. My brother-in-law Chris planted dozens of plants and they have all done remarkably well. They are crowding over the garlic, the silver beet and the beetroot. They are taking over. Not that I mind. Though my mother minds a bit. This is the first time broad beans have been planted in the garden and I don’t think she is used to the way they bend over the garden beds when they are heavy with beans.
I love broad beans. Especially baby ones, the ones that you can’t find in the shops because they are picked much later by growers. A few months back I posted about a salad I make with broad beans and burrata. But tonight, owing to the warm weather, I felt like something more like finger food, to have with a glass of King Valley Petit Manseng that we had opened on Saturday night. So with my ipad on my lap, I searched the internet and found a fabulous looking broad bean hummus.
Hummus doesn’t sound very Italian – but looking closer at the ingredients, it wasn’t Middle Eastern either. It contained items I had in the pantry or in the courtyard like mint, lemon, olive oil and really, those ingredients are Mediterranean, so not far off Italy. This hummus (or dip or as I call it, pesto), is fresh, green and perfect. I added almond meal to the recipe I had found and it made it richer, denser and somehow meatier. I served it with thinly sliced crusty wholemeal sourdough bread. It was lovely to eat sitting on my inner city terrace, on this spring night. Luckily my mother’s garden is full of broad beans as I know I will make this again very soon!
Broad bean, mint and almond pesto
180g double-podded broad beans (I counted about 200 individual beans)
juice of 1/2 lemon
10 fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons almond meal
3 tablespoons of olive oil (a mild one is better)
salt to taste
1 teaspoon lemon zest
crusty bread to serve
To double-pod the broad beans, peel the beans then blanch them in boiling water for about 4 minutes (if you have tough old beans, blanch up to 8 minutes). Plunge the blanched beans in iced water so the inner beans retain their bright green colour. Slip the beans out of their second shell and wash. Reserve a few to one side for garnish.
Place the beans in a small blender with the lemon juice and mint leaves. Whizz until a puree forms. Add the almond meal and some salt and whizz until well combined. Next add the olive oil, one tablespoon at a time and whizz after each addition. Remove the dip from the blender. Stir in the lemon zest and salt to taste.