Greetings from Burgundy, our home for a week or so before we head south to the Riviera. It’s fantastic to be here, don’t get me wrong, but strangely for such a Francophile my departure from Dorset was tinged with some regret because the garden in the UK was suddenly awash with ripening veggies much earlier than expected. Our friends who have kindly agreed to keep the plot going while we are away will certainly be ‘picking their own’, but their bounty will not include the broad beans from the dwarf plants I have been tending with care these past months. I harvested those and brought them with me. I couldn’t resist.
I’d been watching the beautiful, green pods emerging for a few weeks, wondering whether our summer holidays might clash with their ripening so it’s fair to say that I probably picked them a little too soon. They are undoubtedly baby broad beans. Recipe ideas from the Riviera for these delicious pearls of goodness are numerous, and I have gone for something that shouts summer: baby broad bean bruschetta with fresh, Burgundy goat’s cheese, – Baratte made near Macôn – and basil gremolata. It goes down a treat with a glass of Bourgogne Aligoté, a fresh, simple, dry white wine with lots of citrus going on and well-suited to the kick of the garlicky gremolata which itself makes a great contrast to the ‘meaty’ broad beans. Give it a go and, by the way, there’ll be more on the wines from round here in next week’s Wednesday’s Wine post.
Baby broad beans, goat’s cheese & basil gremolata (on toast)
Makes enough for two as a light meal or for four people as canapés
120 g podded broad beans
50g fresh, young goat’s cheese
A few slices of country bread
The leaves from 4 large sprigs of basil
Extra virgin olive oil for mixing and drizzling
1 clove garlic
Salt to taste
Put the broad beans in a saucepan of water and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and continue cooking for a minute or so until the beans are softened but still have a little ‘crunch’ when you poke them with a knife.
Meanwhile, zest the lemon, finely chop the basil and crush the clove of garlic. Mix these ingredients together with salt to taste – this is your gremolata.
Drain the beans and refresh in cold water then peel off the outer skins. Mash them roughly with a little extra virgin olive oil and the juice of the lemon then set aside.
Cut four slices of medium-sized country bread and toast. Leave to cool slightly. Cut into your desired size depending on whether this is lunch or pre-dinner nibble nosh.
Spread the toast with the goat’s cheese, top with the crushed broad beans and sprinkle over some gremolata.
Finally, a teeny drizzle of extra virgin olive oil wouldn’t go amiss.
I hope you enjoy this taste of summer. Mozarella, fresh ricotta or feta would be good cheeses to match with the broad beans in the absence of fresh goat’s cheese.