One of the most versatile edible crops that will come from your polytunnel in late spring/ early summer is broad beans. But many people are not quite sure how best to use this delicious harvest. To help you make the most of your broad bean harvest, and to use up your beans while they are young, tender and at their very best, here are five broad bean recipe ideas that are perfectly suited to the season
1) Warm Broad Bean & Egg Salad
Fresh, young broad beans are delicious in a simple warm salad, perfect for a slightly chilly day in spring. Throw in warmed boiled eggs and broad beans with whatever lettuce or green leafy salad crops you have to hand, and serve with a simple mayonnaise style dressing.
2) Broad Bean Hummus
Broad beans can be used alongside some chickpeas or other pulses to make a delicious hummus dip. Blend your beans and other pulses and add tahini, and garlic, lemon juice and any spices or herbs to taste, and then serve with breads and crudités for an excellent picnic or party food.
3) Broad Bean Fritters
Mash some broad beans and mix up a quick batter mix of flour, egg and milk. Combine this along with seasonings to make some fresh, simple broad bean fritters. Serve the fritters with a herb and cream cheese mix for a delightful lunch or mid-week supper.
4) Broad Bean & Pea Shoot Wild Rice Risotto
For a more substantial evening meal, you can knock up a simple, seasonal risotto in next to no time. With wild rice and a profusion of green produce from your polytunnel, such as broad beans, pea shoots and spring onions or chives, this is an extremely healthy meal. Add vegetable stock, ricotta and seasoning for a sumptuously creamy yet relatively healthy dish.
5) Tagliatelli With Broad Beans & Lemon-Fennel Pesto
Another light, healthy seasonal dish that is a delicious way to eat broad beans is a simple, zesty pasta meal made with a home-made fennel and lemon pesto. You can even add a hint of chilli if you like spice. These flavours really show off the simple, starchy flavour of the broad beans for a satisfying addition to the weekly menu.
These are just some of the many simple dishes that you can create using broad beans and other ingredients that you can grow yourself in your polytunnel and harvest in late spring and early summer. If you need help growing broad beans, follow our top of the crops broad bean growing guide.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.