Inspiration / Food & Wine

Felicity Cloake: Broad Beans with Burrata, and Spanish Broad Beans with Jamon and Mint

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Felicity Cloake Felicity Cloake

Broad beans are sadly underappreciated in this country, I suspect because many of us were put off by the grey-green monsters served up smothered in white sauce under the guise of school dinners. In fact, at the start of their fleeting season, they’re as tender and sweet as new peas, and similarly good raw – as the summer progresses, I’d recommend peeling off the translucent outer skins to reveal the fresh, jewel-like bean within. It’s only the work of a minute with a deft fingernail (in fact, it’s a very good job to delegate to small people, who may also enjoy popping the beans themselves out of their fluffy pods if you buy them fresh, rather than frozen), and the end results will convert even the most fervent broad bean sceptic.

Fava, as they’re also widely known, are more appreciated in southern Europe: the inspiration for the two very simple dishes below, both of which make a fine starter or light lunch or supper in their own right, with some good bread on the side. They both pair beautifully with softer, lighter summer wines – the more delicate creamy flavour of the burrata and lemon zest version is particularly gorgeous with rich peachy whites like the Greco from sunny Basilicata, while more full-bodied roses like this one from Puglia is more than a match for the salty ham and garlic in the second recipe.

Serves 2, or 4 as part of a larger spread

Broad beans with burrata (V)

Ingredients

  • 900g broad beans in pods, or 300g podded beans (frozen are fine)
  • Extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Small bunch of mint or basil
  • 1 whole burrata (an Italian cheese made from mozzarella with a cream filling – use a good buffalo mozzarella if you can’t get hold of any)

Spanish broad beans with jamon and mint

Ingredients

  • 900g broad beans in pods, or 300g podded beans (frozen are fine)
  • 50g cured ham
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar
  • Small bunch of mint

Broad beans
  1. For both recipes, pod the beans if necessary, then fill the sink with cold water and bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Blanch the beans for 2 minutes, then drain and put the beans in the cold water to cool.

  2. Unless the broad beans are very tiny, squeeze off the pale skins to reveal the bright green bean beneath. This may feel like a faff, but you soon get into a rhythm, and it makes for a much nicer end result.

  3. For the burrata version, toss the beans in a serving bowl with the oil and lemon zest. Remove the herb leaves from the stems and tear them into the bowl. Season with salt and black pepper. Put the burrata on top and top with a little more oil to serve.

  4. For the ham version, tear the ham into pieces. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and add the oil, then the ham. Fry until it starts to crisp, then add the garlic. Cook for a minute or so, stirring, then add the beans and toss well to coat. Tip into a serving bowl and season with vinegar, salt and pepper. Tear the leaves from the mint, roughly chop and scatter over the top, tossing once to combine.
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