Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Minty Broad Bean 'Pesto'

As it's so sunny here in Italy right now, it seems appropriate that my first post should be something summery and fresh. I love broad beans. The first meal of the year to use fresh broad beans is always a treat that heralds summer and bears the promise of more homegrown delights to come. Any normal year we'd have eaten tonnes of the fat green beauties by now, but this year is not normal. If you follow my illustration blog or any of my social media you'll know that my partner and I recently moved out of our house in Leicester, where we've been for the past four years, and are currently travelling in Europe before a move to Nottingham. That means we've had to give up our allotment, and I miss it far more than I imagined, but fortunately my in-laws gave us a load of their broad beans before we left, so we didn't miss out completely!

We took such a large bagful from their veg patch that I found myself having to find ways to use them up before they went off, thus this minty 'pesto' was born. Not only is it perfect when you've got a glut, it's also fabulously fresh-tasting, gloriously green and incredibly moreish. I'm usually firmly against the peeling of broad beans, but as this recipe is so very simple it doesn't seem such a pain and I felt it really needed it - not only does it enhance the wonderful green colour, but it also makes the sauce good and smooth too. There are a gazillion different methods for shelling broad beans, so use whichever method you think best, but I steamed them until they were soft and the skins were starting to burst, ran them under cold water until they were cool enough to handle and then a gentle squeeze popped them out easily.

I used this as a pasta sauce, but it would also make a delicious dip and was just as tasty cold as leftovers for lunch. Good for approx 250g dried pasta.

                                                          (c) Becca Thorne 2014

Approx 400g podded broad beans, steamed and shelled 
2 decent-sized garlic cloves, roughly chopped
Good handful of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
Small handful of parsley, roughly chopped (optional)
Approx 25g nuts (eg. hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews), roughly chopped
Approx 25g parmesan/pecorino style cheese, grated
Juice of 1 lime
Good olive oil (this recipe uses a lot of it, so use the best oil you can as the flavour will come through)
Sea salt flakes (eg. Maldon)

Put all the ingredients except the salt and olive oil into a bowl or blender. Add a good slug of olive oil and blend until smooth, adding more oil if necessary. The mix will be probably be a bit stiff and sticky, so keep stirring in more olive oil until it reaches a nice, pesto-y consistency; you want it to be loose, smooth and everso slightly oily (if you're using it as a dip it can be left stiffer, but if you're making a pasta sauce it needs to be able to coat the pasta without becoming dried out - you can always add more oil later if in doubt). The flavour should be fresh and lightly minted with a hint of lime and the salty tang of pecorino. Add sea salt to taste and eat as soon as possible.

No comments:

Post a Comment