From June to August, broad beans are a sure sign that summer is here. They begin small and sweet, raw and ready for salads; even the pods are tasty. As they grow larger and become a little more bitter, I like to use them in Arabic pilafs and rustic Italian-style soups.
Dried broad beans – or fava beans, as they are also known – make a sumptuous and moreish purée that, flavored with a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt, is better than any chickpea hummus.
Broad beans are hardy and easy to grow, even in poor soils. This means that they are readily available from local farmers. If you grow your own broad beans, you can also eat the small leaves by steaming or wilting them like spinach; and you can even use
the flowers to dress your salads.
Broad beans keep well in or out of the refrigerator, as they are well protected by their pods. If the pods become blemished, the beans will often still be perfect, so make sure you check inside before you throw them to the compost monster.
The Natural Cook by Tom Hunt is available now (Quadrille, £20). For more on Tom and his restaurants: tomsfeast.com; @tomsfeast.