Nothing says spring like cute baby lambs and sunny daffodils and crispy asparagus and heavenly perfumed blossom…and broad beans. I know, not many people associate broad beans with spring, but I always do. So many people forget about these delicious vegetables. I think it is because they have been served great big chewy beans that are insipidly grey, taste a little like flour and are quite unappetising. These are not broad beans! Well they are, but this is not doing the bean justice they really have so much more potential. When done properly they become utterly tender delicate and almost sweet little morsels that taste so fresh and just like spring. Anyone that knows this and knows that broad beans, unfortunately, have a very limited season are clambering to get fresh beans in spring. That means you can’t always get them even if it is spring. Not to worry, the frozen ones are absolutely fine and work just as well making this a great recipe for all of my friends in the Northern Hemisphere in the midst of Autumn.
Have you all had bruscetta before? Do you know it is actually super easy to make, almost as easy as making your morning toast. Grill some sourdough slices (if you can’t find sourdough any round crusty bread loaf is fine), rub with garlic and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Yum! The Italians really know how to take toasted bread to the next level! Make sure you use the best quality olive oil you have as because this is such a simple recipe, you will really taste the olive oil and a good one will make all the difference. My friend tried making sourdough once. I thought it was the craziest thing as everyday he would come to work telling us how he fed and watered his little sourdough culture everyday. It was higher maintenance than some pets! I can’t say I have ever attempted it, nor have I attempted puff pastry – there are just too many other fun things I have to do with my time.
I hope you enjoy this simple and delicious spring inspired lunch.
Smashed Broad Bean and Pea Bruscetta with Feta and Mint
For the topping:
- 250 g 1/2 lb frozen broad beans (approx 900g/2lb fresh unpodded broad beans)
- 1/2 cup frozen peas thawed and at room temperature
- 1/2 Tbsp good quality olive oil
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 60 g 2oz feta
- mint leaves to garnish
For the bruscetta:
- 1 sourdough loaf
- 1 clove garlic peeled and halved
- good quality extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
For the topping:
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the broad beans and cook for 2-3 mins or until soft. Remove from heat and drain.
When cool enough to handle, peel off the outer shell from the broad beans. Discard the outer and keep the inner bright green bean.
In a large mortar and pestle or food processor, roughly mash together the broad beans, peas, olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
For the bruscetta:
Slice sourdough about 1cm (1/2 inch) thick. Allow two slices per person. If the loaf is large, you may need to cut the slices again in half widthways.
Heat a griddle, grill or barbecue until hot. Place sourdough slices on the griddle and cook until crisp, approximately 2-3 min (exact time depends on the hotness of your grill, so just keep watching until bread is crisp but not burnt). Turn over and repeat.
Remove from heat and immediately lightly rub each slice with a cut piece of garlic then lightly drizzle with good quality olive oil.
Top each bruscetta with 1/4 of broad bean and pea mixture. Crumble over some feta and sprinkle with some mint leaves and freshly cracked black pepper.