Looking out of the window as I write, it’s hard to believe it’s Spring. The rain is hammering down, blown into the window by the ferocious wind and it’s so dull outside I need the lights on inside, even midday. Even though the rain is still needed, it’s pretty miserable! It’s days like this I like to eat food that reminds me the sun will shine again . This lovely salad does just that.
I’ve written before about my love-hate relationship with broad beans. As a child I hated them but had to eat them as my Dad put so much effort into growing them. In fact, they were the only thing I actually remembering him having success with – maybe his fingers were greener than I give him credit for 😉
The problem was no-one seemed to know that the bitter outer layer of skin should be removed to reveal a sweeter, far more tasty bean underneath. And the smaller the bean, the sweeter the flavour. Once I realised that, hate quickly turned to love. Yes it’s a bit of a faff but one that’s definitely worth the effort.
If you love them to, check out the other two recipes using broad beans on the blog – a tasty broad bean, pea and mint spread (it’s very green!) and yummy broad bean and olive tapenade, which also features in my book Eat Well Live Well with The Sensitive Foodie.
Broad beans are in season in the UK between May and September. Homegrown ones are definitely the best as you can pick them whilst the pods are still smallish and full of flavour. But if you can’t do that, supermarkets and veg box schemes usually sell them although you run an increased risk of acquiring the larger, tougher and altogether more ‘hard core’ beans.
However, there’s another option – check out the frozen veg section in the shops. Like the humble pea, broad beans freeze really well and producers tend to harvest and freeze smaller beans super fast so they keep their flavour and nutrients. Not only are they a good price, you don’t have spend time getting the beans out of the pod which can be a little labour intensive.
I find it’s still worth blanching frozen beans to remove the bitter outer pod; however if your beans are small, you might find its not needed which also saves time and energy.
The other key ingredient in this tasty salad is sun-dried tomatoes – another way of getting the flavours of summer out of season without using high food miles produce that’s been flown half way around the world.
Although they might seem a little expensive, the flavour is intense, so you don’t need many. I usually keep a jar in the fridge to use when a dish needs perking up a bit. I buy ones in olive oil, but always rinse them under a running tap to remove as much of the oil as possible. You might not want to do that if you’re not using a whole food plant based diet as your medicine.
I’ve suggested watercress as the best greens to use; the lovely peppery leaves complement both the broad beans and sun-dried tomatoes. However, whatever greens you have will work, even a simple green lettuce. You can also swap the onion to red if you prefer, or leave it out if you can’t tolerate raw onion. Add a little extra lemon juice if you do, just to make sure there’s a good ‘tangy’ flavour.
So if you need a little out of season summer vibe on your plate, then give this yummy salad a go. The sun will shine on the inside, if not on the out!
Broad bean and sun-dried tomato salad
- 80 grams broad beans fresh or frozen
- 1/2 head broccoli or 8 long-stem broccoli
- 8 sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 medium bunch watercress
- 3 spring onions
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- toasted sunflower seeds to garnish
- salt and pepper to taste
- First, prepare the broad beans. If using fresh, remove the beans from the pod. If using frozen, defrost. Then place in a pan of boiling water to blanch for a couple of minutes. Drain and refresh with cold water. Remove the bitter green-grey outer layer to reveal the vivid green inner bean.
- Whilst the beans are being sorted, pop the broccoli into a steamer and steam for 2-3 minutes until al dente. Remove from the heat as soon as possible - you just want to take the raw edge off. Leave to cool on a plate.
- Rinse any excess oil off the sun-dried tomatoes under a running tap and pat dry with kitchen roll. Chop into small pieces. Finely dice the spring onion.
- Place the watercress into a serving bowl then add the broad beans, chopped broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes and spring onions. Squeeze the lemon juice on top then toss to mix. Sprinkle sunflower seeds on the top and season with salt and pepper (if desired) before serving.