The Arrival of Spring: Broad bean ‘Panzanella’
I saw them being stacked away into one of the many little storage nooks found between buildings in this area on Thursday but had to wait until today for this little treat. Having lived very close to Portobello Road Market I’ve come to know some of the traders fairly well, and mark the change of the seasons as much as by what is making a reappearance on their stalls, as the weather. And there are few things I look forward to more than saying hello to the first new-season broad beans. Much more than asparagus, for me they mark the end of winter and hope for summer. And something about the work involved in podding and skinning feels like a small penance for the lengthening days and rising temperatures.
Of course this year the temperatures are dropping like the optimistic leaves on my tulips. March has decided to come in less less like a lion and go out like a lamb and more like a curmudgeon who’s come into a room and can’t remember what he was seeking.
My preoccupation with the weather is by way of explaining the somewhat split personality evidenced in this recipe. When I bought the broad beans yesterday it was 10 degrees and I was imagining a salad of the crisp little pulses, some ricotta, a squeeze of Amalfi lemon and a drizzle of sun kissed Tuscan olive oil.
Today it’s barely zero so something more warming was required. My friend Gina Navato had alerted me to Ocado distributing on behalf top-food importer Natoora. As their minimum spend is not aimed at the singleton, combining it with an Ocado shop that included the washing powder, a Plenty multipack and a bottle of gin is a great boon. Natoora sells the all-but-over food fetish that is Nduja – a spicy Calabrian salami, and the aforementioned Amalfi lemons so this recipe includes both of those wonderful ingredients.
The warming heat of the Nduja is melted into some crispy white bread croutons. These are made with the best kind of bread for a croutons – stale. The reason it is stale and not mouldy is because it is real bread and the last vestige of my wonderful lesson in bread making from last week at the Bertinet Kitchen in Bath. Can’t recommend it enough – inspiring and educating.
So enough waffling. Here’s the recipe. It really is rather yummy if I do say so myself. I’m sure Gina will glare at me for creating such a bastard of Panzanella, a wonderful Italian bread salad. But I can live with that. Oh, and by the way, with the newest broad beans I don’t bother skinning them…like me at the moment, they are tender and sweet.
BROAD BEAN & NDUJA PANZANELLA
Serves 1 as a main course, 2 as a starter
- 500g broad beans unpodded weight (150g podded)
- 1 slice stale bread, cubed
- 25g Nduja salami
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- juice and zest of 1/2 an Amalfi lemon
- 40g Mozzarella di Bufalla
- A few basil leaves
- Drop the podded broad beans into boiling water for 90 seconds. Drain and set aside.
- In a small skillet, heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil and drop in small nuggets of the Nduja and allow it to melt.
- Add the cubed bread and toss to cover in all the spicy juices. Fry until crisp and golden.
- Grate the lemon and toss with the broad beans and lemon juice.
- Add the crispy bread cubes and mix. Add a little more olive oil if you wish and season with Maldon Salt.
- Add some cubes of mozzarella and basil and if you can, leave to let the flavours all develop for a few minutes.
- Eat and don’t obsess about it being Mother’s Day.