Double-podded late season broad beans are starchy, and delicious lightly crushed into herbs, garlic and olive oil.
Allow me to explain: double-podded broad beans are extracted from their pods and when cooked, their smooth skins are peeled. Peeled, shelled, podded – the vernacular is certainly confusing.
Pulses and beans grow on their plant in pods. Some pods are edible: those are green beans, sugar snap peas and mangetout, even though we don’t actually think of those vegetables as pods.
Other pods are not edible and we sometimes don’t even realise that lentils or chickpeas for instance grow in pods. As do beans of all varieties: kidney, haricot, butter, red and black.
Those pods are usually discarded or sometimes sold as a dietary supplement to credulous people.
But once out of the pod, the beans, pulses and peas are ready to eat, right?
It would be if it weren’t for the pesky broad beans which cause the double-podded confusion.
Beans as snack
In some parts of the world beans are eaten as an appetiser or a snack. If you think it's weird, consider salted or dry roasted peanuts that we gobble by bucketfuls.
Peanuts and beans are close relatives, belonging to the family of legumes together with pulses (dried seeds) like chickpeas and lentils.
So there should be no surprise at edamame beans served as a snack in Asian restaurants, with Wagamama at the fore, or indeed at the broad beans nibbled from a bowl while watching TV, as I am used to doing.
Skins or no skins?
The firm new tiny broad beans at the start of the season are gorgeous. Crunchy and slimy in the nicest way, they literally jump out of the skins, should you want to discard them.
But why would you? The skins are tender and it would be a huge waste, with the beans inside them so small. They are also so flavoursome that they really do not need any seasoning, although I like to cook them with salt and a few sprigs of fresh mint and dill.
But as the season goes on, the beans become larger, fatter and also starchier. And the skins get tougher, more fibrous and unpleasant. The beans need to shed those skins and this recipe is a case in point.
How to double-pod broad beans?
The given term for whisking the beans out of the pods then peeling their skins is, for some reason, ‘double-podding’. It sounds like an awful chore, but actually is not that tedious. Plus, it gives you a golden opportunity for surreptitious snacking!
They need to be boiled in their skins – trying to double-pod them raw is a non-starter. I like to cook them this first time until tender for better flavour.
Then drain them but leave a little cooking liquid in the pan and return the beans into it. They will peel much easier when damp.
Also, don’t let them go cold but start the job as soon as you can handle them, a bit like with chestnuts for Christmas stuffing.
Some will pop out easily and others need to be squeezed out but that’s not a problem in this recipe: we want some of them naturally crushed and broken.
Once they are all double-podded, it’s simply the case of seasoning and warming them up.
Lightly sweated garlic in copious olive oil, herbs – my favourites, dill and mint – a touch of honey because why not? and lemon juice, generously.
A perfect late summer side dish or a snack (!) is ready.
Less is more, usually, but if you’d like to add some bacon lardons, crispened up beforehand, I’m sure they won’t go amiss.
Tomatoes? Very well, and I’d dice some fleshy ones to lightly cook with the garlic, before adding beans.
And for a main course dish, stir the beans into freshly cooked plain rice, to make a semblance of the Persian rice and broad beans dish, baghali polo.
More broad beans recipes
For new season, tender beans all you need is a toasted bruschetta and a drizzle of best olive oil.
Persian rice with broad beans and dill, mint and saffron called baghali polo was mentioned above. It’s a traditional side dish for lamb.
More summer side dish recipes
How to cook spinach when it’s fresh and plentiful? Simply, with lots of butter and thinly sliced garlic. Buttered spinach is a perfect side dish, healthy and ready in minutes.
Coarsely grated courgettes caramelised in butter and olive oil, flavoured with basil and garlic are delicious – quite unlike courgettes!
Beans and tomatoes: blanched green beans served with sautéed tomatoes cooked with green chilies. A match made in heaven and, for me, the classic summery dish.