broad beans with coriander and garlic
Broad beans with coriander and garlic is a brilliantly simple way of making these vegetables which are revered in Lebanon into a stand-alone dish. Instead of steaming or boiling them, coriander and garlic are added to give them a new dimension – they then have more authority on the table. During the season, truck loads can be seen beside the roads selling three kilos at a time. Since the economic crisis of 2019, the local currency has lost 85% of its value, and the price of broad beans has made a summertime staple, a treat. This recipe truly honours such a delicious vegetable.
Nada Saleh in “New Flavours of the Lebanese Table” includes a recipe for broad bean stew with lamb, which is also popular in Lebanon. She adds cinnamon and allspice to the meat and broad beans, and the cooking time is much longer. Eaten hot, this stew is served alongside rice known as “rizz bil sh’ayriyeh” literally rice with hair. Fry 2 tablespoons of vermicelli pasta in some butter until golden brown. Then add a cup of rice and two cups of water. Place the lid on and gentle cook for 10 minutes or so.
The recipe below has a shorter cooking time than the meat version, however the beans won’t stay their beautiful green colour. If you are inclined, you could remove their grey green jackets, but it hardly seems worth it.
1kg broad beans, podded, to get about 240g (or 500g of young broad beans, de-stringed, chopped into approx. 3cm lengths)
a small onion, (15g) chopped finely
a small bunch of coriander (15g) leaves picked and chopped finely
3 or 4 garlic cloves, crushed with 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp Zejd’s extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling over the dish
- Warm a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan (one that you have a lid for) on a low flame and add the finely chopped onion. Leave uncovered for 5-7 minutes, stirring every so often, until soft and golden, take care that it doesn’t burn.
- Add the podded beans, or chopped whole pods, and add 2 tablespoons of water (using the pods you will need to add 2 more tablespoons at least) cover and leave the beans to cook on a low flame for 5 minutes. Make sure the pan doesn’t get too hot, or dry out – you may need to add a tablespoon more of water.
- In a small frying pan, add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and the crushed garlic and stir, leave to cook for 1 minute until all is fragrant. Then add the coriander and stir well, until the leaves soften. Turn off the heat.
- Add the coriander garlic mix to the broad bean pan, turn the heat off, and stir well. Set aside for 5 minutes with the lid on for the flavours to infuse. Add a squeeze of lemon if you wish, and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Best eaten at room temperature with extra virgin olive oil trickled over them, and a generous helping of thick Greek yoghurt on your plate with flat breads to scoop up each mouthful.
A month later, young slender broad beans grown in the UK start to appear in greengrocers and veg boxes. Having travelled less, these are perfect for using whole. Making sure we add more fibre into our diet can be challenging. But eating the whole of the bean makes so much sense. There’s nothing worse than throwing over half of what you’ve bought, or grown, onto the compost heap!
What you’re looking for are bean pods that will snap easily, and have a vaguely floral taste when you taste one. Wash and string them, then chop into 3cm lengths. Any that look too big, or don’t slice easily, set aside and eat raw – the skins will be too tough. Follow the recipe above, and for 500g of beans add 100ml of water at the cooking stage. They will need longer to cook, perhaps 10 minutes, keep tasting until they’re tender but not collapsing. They will lose their lovely colour, but don’t let that put you off. Pour over a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil when ready to eat, the taste of the oil is the perfect complement to the beans. Serve warm with rice and yoghurt, any left over make a quick lunch served cold with a squeeze of lemon and flat breads.