With leftover Spring greens to use a large pack of one of my favourite veg, fresh broad beans that are only ever for sale here during late summer, was eagerly bought. Unlike podding peas that can become a chore I love the feel of ripping open these pods that are luxuriously soft inside, revealing differing sized beans, firm to the touch and with hues that are so very pale green. Until they’re blanched and skinned – then they suddenly show off their true colour, that of a lurid green that screams more akin to shades of neon. Just shades off.
Never fazed with buying such a large pack, and certainly never bemoaning that, in reality, I’m left with just enough for two almost verging on precious portions, those deliberate culinary procedures, those necessary steps undertaken and in doing so revel in unveiling their inner glaring beauty, always culminates in one simplistic realisation – after all that I never quite know what to do with them.
During other, sometimes long and arduous, months of the year small cans of them are bought and invariably chucked into a pan with chunks of tuna, pasta and some garlic infused cream. For those evenings when comfort is needed without much fuss. Their flavour, and colour, pale evocations of summers past.
Come summer I long for these like those that long for asparagus or peas. Or the first crop of strawberries disappointingly delivering shades of reds that seldom meet to their very core. These beans, on the other hand, never disappoint. Subtlety is their flavour. And less sweet than most other veg that hang, hidden, in pods. This time, and it’s about time, I wondered of mushy peas – something that never normally springs to mind. Marrowfat peas that I never have during summer. Mint? Why, I’ve never understood the fascination with any form of minted peas. Parsley. Curly leaf and coarsely chopped to deliver a crisp note. And chilli, green yet pungent. And chicken stock. There, that should do it.
Broad Beans and Spring Greens Pasta, with peppery Cumberland sausages
- olive oil
- 1 x onion, halved, peeled, trimmed, sliced thinly (from the root end toward the stem) with the root end then cut off and discarded
- 1 x 500g (17.64 oz) pack broad beans in pods, podded, blanched and peeled
- 4 – 6 x Cumberland sausages, skinned
- 1 x bunch Spring greens, heart only used, rinsed and shredded
- 3 – 4 x organic garlic cloves, peeled and chopped into small dice
- ¼ x teaspoon red pepper flakes, more to personal taste
- about 150ml (5.072 fl oz) x double (heavy) cream, less or more to personal taste (can be subbed with Crème fraîche)
- cooked pasta, of choice
- cooking liquor, from the cooked pasta
- seasoning, both freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- Put a large heavy-based saucepan on electric heat No 3 (out of 6). When hot pour in a good glug of oil and add the onions. Clamp on a lid and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to No 2 and continue to cook until they turn pale golden in colour. By that stage push them to the sides of pan and add the garlic with another glug of oil if necessary. Cook the garlic for only a minute or two, stir through to combine and then take the pan off heat as the garlic shouldn’t be allowed to scorch.
- Whilst podding the broad beans put a large saucepan on heat No 4 with plenty of lightly salted cold water. Bring to a rolling broil, carefully add the beans, bring back to a boil and simmer for only 2 minutes. Take off heat, strain through a metal colander, get them back into the saucepan and fill it with cold running water until beans are absolutely cold. They can be drained and frozen at this stage. Otherwise, remove the skins of the beans by holding each one with the inner curve between your thumb and finger, with your other thumb pinch the outer curve slightly to create a gash, then simply plop the bean out of its skin by gently squeezing it. Once peeled set aside.
- For the sausages slice them lengthways through their skin and peel those off and discard. Put a heavy-based pan on heat No 3 with a little oil. When hot add the sausages and pan-fry until nicely golden. The meat can be cut up within the pan into small chunks. I allowed them to cook, then used a fish slice to chop them into small pieces and larger chunks just to have differing textures.
- When the onions and garlic are cooked sprinkle over the red pepper flakes and stir through. Add the prepped Spring greens and put back on heat No 2 with a lid. The greens should only take about 5 minutes or so to cook through. The cream by this stage can be added at any time.
- Meanwhile, cook your pasta. When it’s nearly ready, and before it’s drained, reserve some of the cooking liquor and set aside.
- Several minutes before you’re ready to serve add a little of the cooking liquor to the onions and cream, up the heat if necessary to reduce slightly, and add the skinned beans along with the pan-fried sausages. The beans should only take a couple of minutes to heat through. The creamy sauce should really be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon rather than being wet. Either add the cooked and drained pasta to the onion and bean mixture or vice versa.
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