Baby Broad Beans in the Pod

A friend gave us half a pound of baby broad beans in the pod. None of them were bigger than my little finger but some still needed stringing, in fact a couple were probably past the 'cook-in-the-pod' stage but it was the first time I'd tried them like this so I wasn't going to waste them.

The friend said that she cooked hers in the same way that her mother did, just lightly boiled like any other green bean but I hunted through the internet and found a couple of standard treatments; first, dipped in a light batter and deep fried or stewed with garlic and lemon juice.

I reserved a dozen of the smallest beans for the first method and prepared the rest for the second. First mistake; I prepped them far too early and all the cut edges had started to oxidise causing them to go black, I don't suppose it makes much difference to the flavour but may effect the overall look of the dish, I say 'may' as my second mistake overcame that particular problem.

I adapted Anthony Worrall Thompson's recipe from the BBC website but, apart from rather more onions, couldn't detect much difference from any other similar recipe knocking around the net; I suspect it's a fairly standard Middle-Eastern treatment.

Broad Beans with Dill
By Antony Worrall Thompson

  • Serves 4
  • 450g/1lb young fresh broad beans in their pods (I used 125g and adjusted the other ingredients appropriately)
  • 50ml/2fl oz olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • lemon, juice only
  • 250ml/ pint vegetable stock (I used water)
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped dill
  • a dollop of Greek-style yoghurt (optional)

  1. Wash the beans, top, tail and string them where necessary.
  2. Heat the oil in a large heavy-lidded pan and add the onions and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes to soften. Add the beans in their pods and the lemon juice and toss to combine.
  3. Add the stock, bring to the boil and cook for 20-25 minutes until the pods are very tender. Cover and reduce heat to a gentle simmer.
  4. At the end of cooking, add the dill. Serve warm. Add a generous dollop of Greek-style yoghurt (optional).

But my second mistake was to get involved with something on the 'puter and I let the stew dry and start to stick on the bottom of the pan, it didn't go far enough to actually burn but the onions were distinctly caramelised as were some of the beans, it still worked out Ok, but wasn't what I intended and looked pretty awful although other pictures around the net suggest it isn't the prettiest dish anyway. To rescue it I added a little more water and a good squeeze of lemon and heated it through to loosen the bits on the bottom of the pan, the juices quickly amalgamated into a sticky sauce and I then stirred in the dill.

The handful of beans I'd reserved however were a great success, I made a simple batter, the thickness of good milk, from Dove's self-raising flour and soda water, washed the beans, shook off any loose water, rolled them in flour and dropped them in the bowl of batter and ensured they were well coated. I then took the bowl of batter to the hot oil and carefully popped the beans in. They took only a minute or so to cook and came out piping hot and crispy.

To serve I added some chopped dill to the yoghurt* as it was going to be used as a dip for the deep fried beans as well. Along with some pitta bread fingers and a glass of raki it made a pleasant lunch.

Next time, apart from not burning the dish, I will reduce the amount of onion and probably use spring onion, especially if the large 'continental' onions are available and I'll prep all the other ingredients before topping, tailing and stringing the beans.

*I used Total sheep's yoghurt although I would prefer to use their goat's but our local supermarkets and delis don't stock it, the British equivalents on offer aren't rich or thick enough