The Humble Broad Bean

I’ve been so busy recently that I haven’t had a chance to write up some recipes from the last six weeks or so.

This one’s a bit late as broad beans are finished now – but there’s always next year! Or you can use frozen broad beans.

The Broad Bean dip is delicious – not at all the same vegetable that I used to turn my nose up at in disgust when I was a child.

The key is to pod them, blanch them and then peel them – so you don’t have any of the leathery, bitter taste of the skins.

You have to pick them when they are young – otherwise they become tough and very unappetising.

You can pinch out the tops of broad beans as they get taller and stir fry them. This also discourages the aphids that cause the blackfly.

They always target the tender tips first and so if you remove them they have nowhere to go.

And did you know you can cook broad beans whole in their pods when very young?

My friend Steve cooked them like this from a recipe that his Mum makes – they were called a la Greque, cooked with garlic, onion in olive oil finished with a splash of white wine – there might even have been some roughly crushed coriander seeds and lemon juice in there too.


If you make soup you can throw in a couple of the pods as long as they are still quite young and puree at the end.

I adapt a recipe of Jane Grigson’s from her Vegetable Book.

The broad bean plant on the corner grew bigger than the rest and got quite infested with blackfly but the others were largely unaffected – partly because I left the bigger one as a sacrificial plant.

This year I grew a couple of varieties (Bunyard’s Exhibition and another I can’t remember) and grew them in modules under cover in spring and then planted them out.

Some gardeners sow them in autumn and they get a head start over winter.

Mine soon caught up.

When they get tall they will need supporting with stakes/canes and string.

Crimson flowered broad beans are very pretty and decorative.

The herb summer savory is said to be good with broad beans.

Broad bean puree
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
2 mins
Total Time
17 mins
Servings: 6
Author: Cath
  • 1 kg Broadbeans in the pod (or 300g frozen baby broad beans)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped mint
  1. Pod the beans and cook in a saucepan full of lots of lightly salted boiling water for 3 or 4 minutes. 

    If using frozen baby broad beans - steam for same mount of time and skip next step.

  2. If using fresh beans plunge into cold water for a couple of minutes and then peel - discarding the skins.

  3. Place beans (unskinned if really tiny) in a blender or food processor or pestle and mortar and pound or blitz with raw garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper (add cooking water if too thick) a bit like if you were making hummus.

  4. Don't over puree (I like mine with a little bit of a rough texture) and stir in herbs.

  5. Scoop into a bowl and serve with toast or crackers or crudites 


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