I remember vividly the moment when I opened the bean pod from the broad bean plant I grew, on the balcony of my parent’s flat in Macau. I must have been about 10 years old, I saw those little pale green beans lying peacefully inside their furry pod, I was so excited beyond imagination, since I wasn’t the ‘green fingers’ type of girl (and I am still not!), that was a huge achievement for my 10-year-old-self. Strangely, I recalled almost every stage of its growth, from sprouting the bean on a damp cotton wool pad, transferred it gingerly to a small plastic container with proper plant soil, seeing it grew and flowered with beautiful white blossom (with some pattern that I somehow forgot); then the flower wilted and was replaced by a light green pod, growing slowly and steadily and eventually became a cosy shelter for three or four petite beans which were as green as jade. It was quite a valuable experience for me then, to look after something so fragile, and to see this wonderful transformation of life. Apart from plants, we also had seen caterpillars growing into stunning butterflies, silkworms spinning cocoons and finally broke through as some mighty free spirits. I was grateful, for my mother who encouraged us continually and gave us many chances, to witness different form of lives which grew and developed themselves into something beautiful and fascinating.
So when I saw broad beans were on sale at my local market last weekend, and since they are only in season for a bitter short time (May and June), I did not hesitate and bought a bagful, they were still inside the pods, huge pods the size of bananas! They were slightly too mature, but I was just happy to be able to open these pods again like I did when I was 10 years old, taking the beans out one by one from their furry pods. Although this time, I had to remove another layer of outer skin to reveal the jade green beans. The beans were as big as my thumb nail, therefore, I didn’t need a lot, there were about 50 beans, plenty for the dish I wanted to make that very same evening.
Note for the recipe: try if you can to buy younger broad beans as those I got had a slightly bitter taste to it (nevertheless still delicious). I bought around 600g of beans (in their pods), there were just under 50 beans which is enough for this recipe. The mushroom is optional but I do think that it gives the whole dish another layer of flavour. And don’t skip the fresh mint, it compliments the sweetness of the beans and peas immensely.
This dish takes no time to make, but it requires multi-tasking skill. Concentration and good time management are the keys to success!
- 600g Broad beans (weight with the pods)
- 200g peas (fresh or frozen)
- 80g Chorizo, sliced
- 1 Shallots, finely sliced
- 1 small clove of garlic, finely sliced
- 1/2 cup organic vegetable stock, or 1 scant tsp. veggie bouillon with 1/2 cup water
- Fresh mint leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil
For the polenta:
- 1 cup polenta
- 4 cup water
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 big knob of butter
For the mushrooms:
- 100g mushrooms (or 4 large one), finely sliced
- 1 small clove of garlic, finely sliced
- Salt and pepper
In a saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to boil.
Meanwhile, warm a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet, fry garlic and shallot on medium heat until the vegetables start to soften. Add chorizo, fry until they are slightly crispy and have released most of their oil. Add the beans and peas in the skillet and stir until all vegetables are coated with the paprika oil.
Carefully pour in the vegetable stock (or pour in water and add the bouillon), add salt and pepper, cover and let it (low) simmer for a couple of minutes.
When the water in the sauce pan is boiling, add salt. Turn down the heat to simmer, slowly stream in the polenta, stir well, cover and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes (or according to package instruction). Stir occasionally.
While the polenta is cooking, heat another non-stick pan, add butter, the garlic (for the mushroom) and the mushrooms and salt, sautéed until the mushrooms are slightly brown and smoky. Add freshly ground black pepper. Removed the pan from heat.
Stir the vegetables in the skillet and have a quick taste. Season if necessary. Remove the skillet from the heat and cover the pan loosely (you don’t want to over cook it). Set aside.
Add parmesan and butter in the polenta and stir until well combine, season if necessary, the polenta should be smooth and creamy with no lumps.
Divide polenta in the warm serving plates, spoon over with the cooked beans, scatter fresh mint leaves, and finally, top with the cooked mushrooms. Grate some more black pepper over just before serving.