Broad bean, dill and tomato salad by Georgina Hayden
One of my earliest memories is podding broad beans with my yiayias (grandmas), and whenever I mention this, it seems like a popular memory for many, not just me.
Doing this now with my own daughter, I can see why the older generations would enlist the help of any children in the vicinity. Not only is there something mindful and peaceful about shelling and podding the beans, but it also keeps small hands surprisingly busy and quiet. Of course, we can buy frozen all year round, as with peas, but taking the time to prepare broad beans while in season has to be one of the simplest joys in the kitchen, and makes the little beans taste all the sweeter.
I love them cooked the Greek way, slowly simmered in a sweet tomato sauce. However, with the hot weather, I’ve taken my favourite dish and made it into a fresher, lighter salad. It may look simple, but it is far greater than the sum of its parts. Just be sure to be generous with the seasoning here, and serve with fresh, crusty bread – ideally koulouri or simit if you can. It may not look like a vast amount, but the beans are surprisingly filling. And addictive, too.
Serves 4 as a main
broad beans 1.5kg
spring onions 4
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil 3 tbsp
tomatoes 2 large, ripe, meaty (at least 200g in weight)
garlic ½ clove
feta 200g (optional)
Pod the broad beans. Bring a pan of water to the boil and blanch the beans for 2½-3 minutes, depending on their size. Drain and immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water. Leave them for 5 minutes then remove the opaque skins, so that you are left with the vibrant green beans. Trim and finely slice the spring onions and toss through the broad beans, along with the juice of the lemon, a generous pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and 2 tablespoons of the extra virgin olive oil. Chop the dill and stir through. Check the seasoning and leave to one side.
Place a box grater in a large shallow bowl and directly grate in the tomatoes – grating in all the flesh and seeds and discarding the skins. Finely grate in the peeled garlic clove, then stir in the final tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and season to taste. When the dressing is ready, pile the dressed broad beans on top of the grated tomatoes. Crudely break a block of feta over, if using, and serve with the slices or chunks of fresh bread.