double happiness beans

broad bean, ricotta and mint salad

I have to say that for me there’s something about having to work for your food that makes it all the more tasty. Wrestling the last morsel from a crab claw, peeling prawns for others as well as yourself, shelling pistachios, eating fish off the bone, I’m a sucker for it all. But by far the latest favourite labour intensity activity in my house, well when it comes to food at least, has been double peeling broad beans.

Maybe it’s because they’re so seasonal and I know that they won’t be around for $2.99/kg forever, but at the moment, one of my favourite past times is to be sitting on the best balcony in Darling Point on a balmy spring evening just me, an Irishman, a bottle of Riesling and a few kilos of broad beans. Chewing the fat and working our way through the huge pile of legumes. It’s satisfying when you get to the end to say the least.

Then there’s the cooking process, a quick dip in a pot of boiling salted water to soften up their skins, a refreshing spin under some cold water and then it’s back to our stations, glasses charged for the second assault.

And sure it takes a while, but believe me when you mush up said beans in your trusty mortar and pestle with a little fresh mint, some olio, a generous splattering of freshly grated parmesan and a squeeze of lemon then spread this over some hot sourdough toast that has been given a kiss from a clove of garlic. One mouthful and you’ll be seeing that these really are double happiness beans….all good things.

broad bean, ricotta and mint salad
serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side dish

OK so this salad is really just a main course verision of the dip I mentioned above. It’s interesting enough to serve as a meal in it’s own right with some crusty bread to mop up the minty ricotta we’re talking the perfect thing for a spring supper. If you wanted to beef it up even more a bit of grilled prosciutto crumbled over the top wouldn’t go astray. 

It also would make a lovely accompaniment to roast chicken or some BBQ lamb cutlets or you could try it with some vitello tonnato as I did, just be warned that the salad will probably out shine your veal.

1kg broad beans
1 bunch mint, leaves picked
1/3C extra virgin olive oil
juice & zest 1 lemon
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves picked
250g ricotta
2 handfuls freshly grated parmesan

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Meanwhile, find a comfy spot and get to peeling your broad beans for the first time. Cook beans in simmering water for 2-3mins, drain and refresh under cold running water. Then peel for the second time to reveal the bright green lovelies.  Finely chop mint and combine with oil. Toss through double peeled beans and season well. Add half the lemon juice and allow to stand for a few minutes for the flavours to mingle.

Stir parmesan and lemon zest through the ricotta and season. To serve, smear ricotta over the base of a serving plate. Toss parsley through the bean mixture then taste and add more lemon juice if you think it needs it. Spoon beans over the ricotta and enjoy now or cover and refrigerate until you’re ready for a treat.

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