(continued from “Plastic Free July…taking the challenge one step further” and Localvore for a month)
I’ve always been impressed with broad beans (otherwise known as fava beans), they are truly a plant that grows with our seasons. Plant them when the rains start (you can still plant them now) and they’ll grow, they tolerate most conditions but the better the soil the better the bean. The main problem with growing them is that they need space and they get so long and lanky that they end up needed some sort of physical control to stop them falling over and getting hopelessly messy. Young broad bean leaves and flowers are great in salad, young pods can be eaten like snow peas and young beans are delicious cooked or raw. You can also grow them as a nitrogen fixer planted before or with other crops and cut down when they start to flower to provide nitrogen for the next crop.
The reason I’m writing about them now as part of my localvore month is that dried broad beans (broad bean seeds) are a fantastic source of both protein and carbohydrate, so while our current crop is still at the salad stage the seeds we saved from last year are ready to be rehydrated and used as a serious food. They do take quite a bit of cooking though so get the fire going in the morning if you want broad beans for dinner.
My favourite recipe so far: Broad Bean Patties
Soak the whole dried broad beans, Boil them until the skins peel off, Peel the broad beans (this is tedious but worth it), Boil them again until they can be mashed, Mash them into a paste (a stick blender works well), Add some sea salt, finely chopped parsley and garlic,
This will give you a basic pattie mix that you can play with and add whatever you want, I added grated beetroot one time and the next time added cooked pumpkin and spring onions, if the mixture gets too wet you may need to add something like bread crumbs, but as bread doesn’t fit with my localvore month and I hadn’t got around to making canna flour I just had to settle for wettish patties.
Anyway fry the patties in olive oil and they are fabulously filling and delicious.
Broad beans are one of the earliest crops used in cultivation (started being used in Mediterranean diet around 6000 BC) and are found in recipes all over the world. I would definitely put them in the “must grow and save seed” category of plants for maintaining a local healthy diet. Oh and one more small fact, I just found out they are not a bean at all but a pea (vicia fava) which may explain why they are the only bean that we grow in winter!