With the allotment kicking out veg at this time of year, finding the best way to show off the produce is paramount. It is pretty pointless to spend ages growing something, cutting it fresh and rushing it home if you are going to cook it to death or smother it with sauce.
As a child, broad beans were an unedifying proposition. Veg was cooked as it was and put on the plate with little thought other than to make sure it was on time. Broad beans were cooked without removing their thin skin. But cooked properly, these are wonderful.
However, remove that extra skin to reveal the sweet, bright green been inside, and the result is wonderful.
This recipe uses parmesan as an additional seasoning to help emphasise the meatiness of the bean.
Pod the broad beans by breaking the tops and unzipping them to reveal the beans.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a fast boil. Drop in the beans and cook for about 2 minutes.
Remove the beans and put in a colander. Rinse with cold water to stop them cooking.
Reserve a cup or so of the cooking water.
Take each been and nip of the hard end with your fingers. Slip the two halves of the bright green inner bean out. Discard the outer covering. A cup of tea goes nicely with this part since if you have a lot of beans it can take a while!
In a large frying pan, melt the butter over a medium heat till it just bubbles. Put in the skinned beans and toss for two minutes till they are hot.
Add the cup of reserved cooking water and stir till it has half evaporated – you may want to up the heat a little.
Add the grated cheese and stir till it melts and a thin but creamy sauce coats the beans.
Salt to taste and add plenty of black pepper. Serve immediately just as they are with some toast, or tossed into tagliatelle or something.
This dish works best being finished at the last moment. You can blanch and peel the beans in advance, however, and then just spend 5 minutes cooking them and serve them straight to your guests. Goes wonderfully with anything, really!