Monday 20 October 2008

Broad Bean Pesto

I recently bought some mung bean fettucine and broad beans (fava beans) because I was in a different part of town (Clifton Hill) and enjoying exploring unfamiliar speciality stores and grocers. Always interesting to be a tourist but nice to come home. Yes, I am sorry to say that I was not won over by the pasta and I still don’t understand other bloggers who get so excited by broad bean season.

I am not in the habit of putting a lot of salt in the water for cooking pasta. E encourages me to add oil and salt so sometimes I add token amounts but pasta usually tastes good enough without. I was fascinated in Bill Burford’s story of learning Italian cooking in Heat to read that the water should be as salty as the sea. Maybe this would help the mung bean pasta because it made me rush for the salt shaker.

As for the broad beans, I used them to make pesto which was nice but it seemed like I was masking the taste of the beans because, frankly, they didn’t taste that great by themselves. Even peeled they leave a floury taste in my mouth. So I just can’t justify spending time peeling off their skins. It seems a waste to buy such a large handful and end up with so few little beans (I bought 400g and ended up with 75g when double podded). The best thing about them is the lovely green colour. I will maybe try a few more recipes but my heart will not leap with joy at the sight of them coming into the stores in spring.

However, I always enjoy a pesto so here is the recipe. It was interesting with the mung bean pasta but was excellent on toast with slices of tomato and cheese (sorry no photos because I had it for breakfast when my brain was focusing on other things). It is also good to flavour sauces, mashed potato and salads. At least when I see broad beans in the stores, I can think of one way to enjoy them.

Broad Bean Pesto
(adapted from BBC and Celtnet)
makes enough to serve 4 on pasta

75g broad bean (double podded) from 400g
1 garlic clove
30g basil (a small bunch)
20g pinenuts
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
30g parmesan cheese, finely grated
Pinch salt (optional)

To double pod broad beans – pod and cover with boiling water for about 2-3 minutes then remove the bright green beans from the grey skins.

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blitz till blended into a paste.

On the stereo:
The Wire Tapper 20 – Various Artists


  1. Here, in Italy, raw fava beans are often eaten with lumps of pecorino cheese (i.e. cheese made with ewe milk). It is often a combination that goes with the idea of spring picnics. You might like that...

  2. What a shame about the beans! I've also read so much about fresh favas and wanted to try them out. I can't believe how much weight was lost when they were podded!

    Still, it's a great idea--beans in pesto, as it would add so much protein to the mix. And it does look lovely. :)

  3. Gosh your photos made my mouth water.

  4. Sorry to hear this wasn't as nice as it sounded. It would have seduced me in the shop too - but then so did some sweet potato noodles which were similarly disappointing! Have you tried broad beans in risotto? We like them like that. The pesto sounds good too.

  5. I love broad beans but totally agree with you that they (on their own) aren't right for pesto. Looks gorgeous though!

  6. thanks Nathalie - I see these sort of recipes and have thought I should try a broad bean in salad - although I probably need a good variety of veg

    thanks Ricki - it does seem wasteful that so much yield so little but at least pesto doesn't need a lot

    thanks Tanna - if only broad beans tasted as good as they look :-)

    thanks Lysy - I guess it is a matter of trying foods different ways if they don't work for me the first time - broad beans in risotto sounds good

    Thanks Wendy - I did drool a little over some of your broad bean photos while searching the net for ideas!

  7. i dont double pod - what a waste of time! arabs actually eat the whole thing. check out for a different and easy way to make it. just add heaps of lemon and i am sure you will enjoy this.

  8. It is a pity that they were so disappointing! I am not a big fan eithr, but the pesto sounds good and I am drooling at the thought of having it on tast with tomatoes and cheese. Yum :P

  9. thanks Ran - sounds like a nice idea to eat the beans unpodded but I think it would be too much of a challenge for me

    thanks Holler - I know you appreciate a good pesto - and I think at least the beans gave added nutritional value and colour - but not as good as your pea pesto


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