Sunday, 5 July 2009

Broad bean, pecorino & lemon risotto

click on picture for larger image

I made this and we really liked the fresh taste that the hint of lemon gave this risotto, it just lifted it up. The broad beans are delicious. The broad bean has to be shelled twice but, well worth the effort. I had never made anything using broad beans before. It's a refreshing, clean tasting little bean and it works perfectly with grains. It's also a great source of protein. I have included the history and a little nutritional information because I thought it was so interesting.

A little history on the broad bean before the recipe.

The broad bean or as many know it as the faba bean has a whole host of names the fava bean, horse bean, field bean, tick bean and Windsor bean. Before the discovery of the Americas it was also the only bean known of in the old world.

Although no near ancestor has been found in the wild, remains of the broad or faba bean have been found in Neolithic sites in Israel dating back to 6800-6500 BC. It took another 3000 years to find its way north to the Mediterranean and central Europe but it remained a valuable source of protein throughout the old world until the introduction of the phaselolus bean from across the Atlantic. They were eaten by the Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese, in Northern India and in Roman times the gladiators were fed a staple diet of beans and barley to prepare them for battle.

It is popular myth that the ancient Greek mathematician Pythagoras died being pursued into a bean field. He felt unable to trample on any of the beans believing that the souls of man transformed into beans after death

Here is the broad bean after I shelled it the first time.

click on picture for larger image

The nutritional bit:
For centuries broad beans were a valuable source of protein when meat was scarce. They are high in protein (about 25% when dried) but lack some amino-acids so should be combined with a grain such as wheat, barley or rice. This is done quite naturally which is why popular dishes such as beans on toast and dhal and rice contain both a bean and a grain.

Broad beans also contain copper, niacin, folate and vitamin C. There is of course more of these nutrients, especially vitamin C, in fresh beans than dried.

It is a surprising fact that the enzyme for digesting the broad-bean is lacking in some 100 million people world-wide. This condition is known as favism is a form of haemolytic anaemia and effects mainly people of Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern descent. To confuse the Pythagoras link even further it is thought that the triangle loving ancient Greek also suffered from the condition. Rest assured, we ate this wonderful little bean with no problems.

Here it is in the pod see how each bean is attached with it's own little holder.

click on picture for larger image

Now on to the recipe !

1 lemon, zested
50g pecorino, grated (I used parmesan)
300g arborio rice
2 large knobs butter (knob = 1 tbsp)
1 glass white wine
200g cooked and double podded broad beans (see note)
1 Litre (2 cups) vegetable or chicken stock
fresh, cube or concentrate is fine
4 shallots, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed

1. Cook the shallots and garlic gently in a large knob of butter until soft. Add the rice and stir until all the grains are shiny. Turn up the heat and then add the wine and bubble until absorbed.
2. Add the stock bit by bit until the rice is tender but, still has a little bite. Stir in the broad beand with the remaining butter, most of the lemon zest and half the cheese. Serve topped with the rest of the pecorino and zest.

NOTE: To double pod the broad beans, first shell the beans as usual. Then take those "beans" and boil for about 3 minutes, you will notice they turn a very light mint greenish white color. Then take them off, rinse with very cold water and let them cool enough to "peel" the outer, leather like shell off again. Inside you will find the beautiful dark lime green broad bean.

Recipe adapted from

No comments:

Post a Comment