A big bag of pods produces a small pile of beans – but boy, is it worth it when they’re freshly picked. Enjoy them now while they’re young and sweet
1. Minty crushed beans
Mash lightly cooked and skinned broad beans (see How to prepare them), then mix with ricotta, chopped fresh mint, and lemon zest and juice. Pile on to toasted wholegrain bread slices and top with a light drizzle of olive oil and a grind of black pepper.
2. Couscous salad
Stir lightly cooked and skinned broad beans into prepared couscous with chopped fresh parsley and coriander, toasted almonds and sun-dried tomatoes. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil.
3. Green veg risotto
Add lightly cooked and skinned broad beans to a risotto made with a little olive oil, reduced-salt stock, trimmed asparagus and a sprinkle of grated parmesan. Stir in broad beans just before the risotto is cooked.
4. Falafel-style cakes
Blend broad beans in a food processor with red onion, garlic, chilli, ground cumin and ground coriander. Add a little beaten egg and a sprinkle of flour, then shape the mixture into balls. Flatten slightly, drizzle with a little olive oil, then bake until crisp and cooked through.
5. Filling frittata
For a main meal frittata, add a scattering of lightly cooked and skinned broad beans, some roasted red pepper and courgette to your pan of beaten eggs and cook through.
6. Garlicky beans
Toss lightly cooked and skinned broad beans with drained tinned cannellini and red kidney beans in water, finely chopped spring onions, crushed garlic, chopped tomatoes, chopped fresh flatleaf parsley and a low-fat mustard dressing. Serve with grilled lean lamb steaks or chicken breasts.
7. Hazelnut and fennel salad
Combine roasted fennel, lightly cooked and skinned broad beans and a sprinkle of toasted hazelnuts, then toss with a cucumber and yogurt dressing – an ideal accompaniment to summer meals, such as spicy grilled chicken or tuna steaks.
8. Perfect paella
Stir lightly cooked and skinned broad beans into your favourite paella towards the end of cooking. They go especially well with chunks of skinless chicken breast, sliced leeks and smoked paprika.
9. Chilli feta pitta
Mix lightly cooked and skinned broad beans with crumbled feta, baby spinach, rocket and a little low-fat sweet chilli dressing, then use to fill a wholemeal pitta.
10. Mushy beans
A cross between mushy peas and hummus, this is a good way to use up larger broad beans, which have a slightly mealy texture. Lightly cook and skin broad beans, then fry in a little olive oil with crushed garlic and chopped onion until soft. Blend in a food processor with lemon juice, fresh mint and parsley and a spoonful of low-fat natural yogurt, adding a little water if needed to make a dipping consistency. Serve with grilled fish, as a dip with raw veg or spread over wraps before rolling.
What’s so great about broad beans?
Broad beans are high in protein so they’re a great choice for anyone who follows a vegan or vegetarian diet. Plus they’re full of fibre to help keep the digestive system healthy (just 3 heaped tbsp provide more than a quarter of our daily need). It’s this combination of protein and fibre that helps keep us feeling fuller for longer. Broad beans also provide bone-strengthening phosphorus and B vitamin folate, plus they include useful amounts of potassium, which helps to control blood pressure, and iron, needed for healthy blood.