I started the day in the garden doing the day's harvest, which included a bowl of fresh, immature beans.
|Beans, rape(greens), purple basil, zucchini from late crop, green chilli & pumpkin|
I like to start picking beans when they are young like that because the flesh is really tasty, especially when steamed and seasoned with a bit of salt, black pepper and margarine/butter/olive oil.
I personally feel that beans get a bad rep. For some people, the concept of eating rice and beans implies being broke, poverty or a lack of choice. Unless you're vegetarian or vegan or from a country where beans are a staple, of course. Then they're just delicious food.
In our household, beans are one of our main staple foods (not a cultural thing; just what we like). We eat them with at least four main meals a week and as a quick addition to snacks.
I used to buy most of mine dry and some in cans, but last year I started planting a bigger crop so I can buy less.
|Lots of bean bushes around|
According to my planting calendar, April is a good month to plant broad beans/fava beans. This is my second batch of beans, with the first batch planted last month (see pic below)
How to grow broad beans (fava beans)
|Young broad/fava beans almost ready to be staked|
The Planting Process: I usually prepare the soil by adding compost and watering it thoroughly a couple of days before I plant. However, once I've sowed broad beans, I don't water the soil for at least 10 days, as the seeds are very prone to rot.
As it's Autumn, I'm choosing a variety that's appropriate for planting at this time. I'm told there is another variety that's suitable for planting in windy area.
Make sure that there is a good proportion of space between the plants. Broad beans grow very big, so they need to be able to space out OK. Also remember that airflow is essential for ensuring your beans don't catch fungal disease.
In line with this, your seeds should be sown 5cm (2inches) deep and 20cm (8inches) apart. Dwarf varieties of broad beans can be sown 15cm (6in) apart. Broad beans are best sown in double rows, with the rows 20cm (8inches) apart. If a second double row is needed this should be positioned 60cm (2feet) away from the first. Sow a few extra seeds at the end of the rows to fill in any gaps produced by seeds that don’t germinate.
I've been lucky so far, in that, I haven't had a Blackfly problem, even when I didn't know I was supposed to punch out the bean seedlings. Now I just do it as a preventive measure. I usually steam the baby leaves I've cut out, sprinkle them with a bit of salt and a teaspoon of olive oil and voila, we have a nice additional veggie dish.
Stake the plants once the seedlings have grown a bit, to prevent the fragile stems from bending or breaking and pods being damaged. I usually just use a couple of sticks to stake mine, though I know I should look into making something stronger. The plants need plenty of water when they are in flower though.
My favourite recipe for broad beans is chickpea and bean dal with caraway potatoes. I got the recipe from the Food Lovers One Pot, published by Trans Atlantic Press, recipes selected by Marika Kucerova.
Of course I adapt it to suit me based on the availability of ingredients. For example, I usually use canned chickpeas rather than dry, and may exclude some of the seeds if I don't have them on hand.
2 and 1/4 cups or 400g chickpeas (same size as a 400g can)
2 and 1/4 cups broad beans
2 cloves garlic
2 green chillies
2tbsp butter or oil or margarine
3 cups vegetable broth/stock
1tsp freshly grated ginger (sometimes I just use the powder)
1/2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 and 3/4 pounds(800g) potatoes
1tsp caraway seeds
1handful spinach leaves
salt and pepper for taste
1. Soak chickpeas and broad beans in water overnight and drain.
2. Peel and finely chop the garlic and onion. Cut the chillies in half.
3. Saute the onions and garlic in hot butter /oil /margarine in a saucepan, then pour vegetable stock.
4. Add the chickpeas, broad beans, chilies, ginger and crushed coriander seeds. Cover and simmer gently for 50-60 minutes.
5. Peel the potatoes and boil them with caraway seeds for around 25 minutes.
6. Wash the spinach and add to the add to the dal at the last moment, then season with salt and pepper.
7. Drain the potatoes and serve them on plates, add dal and serve.