Over the last few weeks, nature has been sending out great big signals about the arrival of summer, using the medium of broad beans and peas.
Recently, huge handfuls of both have been arriving in my veg box and I've been spending lots of time shelling them - winkling them out of their soft pods, shucking out the green spheres into a pot. There's something kind of meditative in the activity - with some good music on and my hands busy, my mind is at rest.
What to with those little signifiers of summer? My first thought was a salad of some kind, in keeping with the good weather we've been having of ate. I thought a mezze type platter would be in order.
I love foules mesdames, though normally out of a tin than homemade, I'll be honest. I also am mad keen on baba ganoush - that's always made my me though!
There's also some padron peppers in there, which I love more than is strictly necessary. There's something all sorts of fun about peppers that have a roulette element - you know about one in every five or six will be really hot, and the rest pack no heat whatsoever. Nestled among all the other elements is a salad of peas, beans, spring onion, yellow courgette and mint. If there's something else that says summer louder than that, I need to know about it.
I've also been using broad beans and peas to make the greenest meal ever. Check it out:
That's mighty green, huh?! It's a sauce of avocado and basil blended up, with beans and peas mixed in, and walnuts on top. It's given extra green-ness by spinach gnocchi.
I love gnocchi more than life itself, but finding vegan gnocchi is surprisingly hard for something that's meant to be pretty much all just potato and flour. Luckily, I discovered this brand that has its veganity proudly marked on its front and which contains no gluten to boot - handy for coeliacs in need of pillowy pasta.
But, like most things, broad beans and peas make excellent soup fodder, and thanks to their quick cooking times, can go from chopping board to soup bowl in not very much time at all.
Here's what I've been doing with them:
Quick and easy broad bean and pea soup
One white onion, diced
Three cloves garlic, chopped
Half a litre vegetable stock
1 can flageolet beans
1 small courgette, diced
75g broad beans
1 medium avocado, chopped
Handful of basil
Handful of mint
Handful of parsley
One spring onion, sliced finely
How you do it
Sweat the onion off in some oil until softened, around 10 minutes or so.
Add in the garlic, sweat for another minute.
Add in the stock, courgette, beans, and peas. Bring to a simmer, and let cook for another five minutes, or until veggies are cooked.
Turn the heat off, add the avocado and herbs, and blend til smooth.
Top with sliced spring onion.