Broad bean season is looming, and with that in mind i have been using up the last of my frozen broad beans. I really like broad beans, and try to grow lots, so that i can freeze plenty and enjoy them through the winter months, as well as eating lots of them fresh out of the garden. My beans aren't usually ready for eating until late November/early December, but as i know of at least one other couple busy eating up their frozen supply in preparation for the coming season's produce, i thought an early broad bean recipe or two would not go amiss.
Frozen broad beans benefit from being blanched and popped out of their grey inner pods (skins). This is a relatively time-consuming procedure, so you may choose to omit this step, however it does make them look (and, to a lesser extent, taste) SO much more appetising. I am happy to eat frozen broad beans in their skins, but if i'm going to the effort of putting them in a dish such as this risotto, i usually go the extra mile and skin them as well.
I came across this recipe in a New Zealand Listener, which i buy from time to time to take in to the hills with me - with the articles and the cryptic crossword and other puzzles it provides quite a lengthy diversion for not too much weight or space. And i have garnered a few good recipes from the Listener over the years as well.
As faithful readers will be well aware, i am a big fan of risottos, especially vegetable-based ones, so i am always excited to come across a new risotto recipe. I was particularly excited by this one, as i am always pleased to discover a new way to use broad beans, so it was written into my recipe journal immediately. Sadly i cannot tell you who was the creator of this recipe, or even what year i came across it, as have noted in my recipe journal only that it was from the Listener.
The main change i make to the recipe given below is that often i toast a couple of slices of wholemeal bread to dry it out, and then finely dice it to use in place of the panko crumbs. The recipe specifies the use of frozen broad beans, but of course fresh ones work just as well, and if they are young and tender they do not require peeling.
BROAD BEAN RISOTTO with CHILLI & LEMON CRUMBS
From the New Zealand 'Listener'
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 knobs of butter
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1.5 cups arborio rice
1 cup white wine
4 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped mint
600 g frozen broad beans
100 g Parmesan
Chilli & Lemon Crumbs
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
zest of 2 lemons
pinch of chilli powder
1 clove garlic, sliced
4 tablespoons panko crumbs (or 2 slices wholemeal bread, toasted and very finely diced)
Put stock in pot and heat. Put broad beans in a pan with hot water, bring to the boil, then drain and refresh under cold running water. Slip the beans out of their outer skins.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy pan. Add 2 knobs of butter, then the onion, and cook 3-5 minutes. Add the crushed garlic, toss well, then add the rice. Cook 2 minutes, add wine, cokk until evaporated, then start adding the stock, a ladleful at a time. Cook until the rice is tender but not soft, adding more stock as required.
Meanwhile, make the chilli and lemon crumbs. Heat the oil, toss in the lemon zest and chilli powder and mix well. Stir in the garlic, toss in the crumbs (or diced toast) and cook on medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
When your risotto is tender, fold in the parsley, mint and broad beans, then the grated parmesan. Rest two minutes, then season.
To serve, fold in the remaining 2 knobs of butter and dish in to bowls. Sprinkle with the chilli & lemon crumb mix, garnish with shaved Parmesan and extra herbs.