broad beans



What a gorgeous day! Sun is shining, kids’ teachers are on yet another strike so we have got to enjoy the sunshine together with their friends. After playing a game of tennis it was all about spending time lazying around (or inside) the paddling pool. With only one week before this school year is over I am hoping all days will be a bit like today.

Even preparing broad beans seems to be enjoyable when you can sit outside in the sun. I ended up with 2 cups of broad beans that further shrunk to 1 cup after cooking and removing the tough outer skins. And a large bowl of empty pods for the compost bin.

Inspired by the flavour of wasabi peas I decided to pair my broad beans with some prepared wasabi paste and turn them into a dip. I also used a courgette to bulk the dip up and to help make it smoother. I was tempted to add some tahini but broad beans can have a slightly bitter undertone and so does tahini paste. I used the sweeter cashew nut butter instead. Almond butter would work too.

When preparing my dip, my daughter called out to her friend. “Look, my mum is making something green again!” Very funny. I guess I am known among my children’s friends for green recipes... Unlike kids I do find green foods rather appetising and had to taste the dip straight away with a rice cake. The rest is in the fridge waiting to come out later possible with some carrot sticks or tortilla chips.



1 cup cooked broad beans (weight of beans without their leathery outer skins)
1 courgette, raw
juice of 1/2 lemon (or to taste)
1 tbs cashew butter
handful of fresh coriander
1-2 tsp of prepared wasabi (or to taste)
salt to taste

1. Put all ingredients into the blender and process till smooth. Serve as a dip or spread.





Most of the courgettes that I have in the kitchen make it into a bowl of raw spaghetti with a variety of raw sauces. This time however I opted to cook them. I must have been inspired about last Friday’s lunch with a friend. We shared lovely Lebanese mezze and a massive dish of grilled veggies (including courgettes) and falafels.

Another summer vegetable, the broad bean was in my veg box. I find it the most wasteful vegetable in the world. It even rivals globe artichokes in the amount of waste it generates...You receive a big bag of bean pods, you pod the beans, cook them, pop them out of the tough (to me not very pleasant) skins and you are left with a handful of bright green beans and a mountain of waste... lucky we have a compost bin. You can’t deny the nutritional value of broad beans, it makes all the work worth it. A cup of can provide 44% of your folate! And 12.9g of protein. Other minerals and vitamins these little gems are rich in include iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc, potassium and B vitamins.

The courgettes and beans do not posses any strong flavours and need something to lift them up. I chose pesto as it is great with any veg. My pesto maybe vegan but it sure is delicious. It is thick, nearly spreadable, cheesy from the nutritional flakes. Lemon juice just lifts it up a little. I really enjoyed this dish, it’s so full of flavour and so versatile. I had mine simply with some rice, but any grain or pasta will be great. The salad is perfect for a mezze style meal. The pesto is great on its own too. I can promise you won’t miss the parmesan.

More broad beans and courgettes in my veg box this week... I think I know what I will be making.

serve this as a salad, mix in with some rice, pasta or quinoa, use as a topping for a jacked potato, in a sandwich... the possibilities are endless

Serves 2 as a main dish

2-3 courgettes (zucchini) (I used two rather big ones)
olive oil in a spray bottle
1-2 cups shelled broad (fava) beans
2 spring onions (scallions), white part thinly sliced
1 cup (packed) of basil
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup walnuts (or pine nuts)
1tbs lemon juice
3 tbs cold press extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs nutritional yeast flakes
salt to taste


  1. Cut the courgettes into bite size pieces. Place into a roasting dish and lightly spray with olive oil. Bake for 25min at 400 or until courgettes start to brown around edges. Set aside to cool
  2. Boil the beans for 2 minutes in water. Rinse in a colander with cold water. When cool enough to handle pop them out of the light green tough skins. Set aside.
  3. In a blender combined the pesto ingredients and process into a thick paste. It won’t be as runny as traditional pesto.
  4. Mix the courgettes, beans, spring onion with the pesto. Best served at room temperature.




Fava beans or as we know them in the UK, broad beans, are not just for Hannibal Lecter. These jade green jewels are a wonderful nutrititous summer treat. Their season is quite short so make the best out of it, they may be gone before you notice. Broad bean preparation makes a great job for kids, they love popping the beans out of their pods, just be prepared you may be chasing them (the beans not kids hopefully) all around the kitchen as they tend to shoot out in different directions. This provides a great entertainment.

My veg man delivered about 900g (2lb) of broad beans pods, after shelling them and removing the tough skin I ended up with about 250g (about 1/2lb 1 oz), actually it looked rather a meagre portion. I needed to think of a way how to make them go further. Pairing them with peas seemed like a great idea as they enhance the sweetness of the broad beans. I also had some fresh organic mint that came in my veg box. Perfect with both peas and broad beans.

A bright green fresh tasting dip was born. Adding up the numbers I calculated there was about 26g of protein it the amount this made. Quite impressive! Add to it the fibre, potassium, iron, calcium, folate, and the C and A vitamins; this dip packs a nutritional punch. I also found out that broad beans contain Levodopa (L-dopa), a chemical our body uses to produce dopamine. Therefore this dip should leave you in a great mood even without the Chianti.


Use this as a dip with pitta chips or as a spread on some sprouted bread. Makes a lovely dinner party started with some Melba toast. Edamame beans work as a great replacement for broad beans.

900 g(2lb) broad bean pods, 250g (1/2lb and 1oz) podded
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 spring onion, sliced
handful of mint leaves
lemon juice

  1. First prepare the beans. After you have podded the broad bean, bring them to a boil in a sauce pan with just enough water to cover the beans. Cook for 2min and rinse under cold water, or plunge into bowl of ice cold water.
  2. Next pop the beans out of the tough skin. Set aside.
  3. If using frozen peas just leave them to defrost, fresh peas cook for 2 min and cool as you did the broad beans.
  4. In a small bowl of your food processor combine the beans, peas, mint, garlic, spring onion and process. You will end up with a coarse texture dip. Add some salt and lemon juice to taste.





Last Saturday I attended a day of talks organised by my college. One of the segments was a cookery demonstration and a talk on the Mediterranean Diet. My friend and I were watching in bit of a dismay as the chef poured lashings of olive oil on her fennel and orange salad (about 2Tbs per 1/3 of a fennel bulb) and than fried couple of fillets of sea bass in a very generous pool of rapeseed (canola) oil. My friend confronted her about the amount of oil she was using. Her response was: “ I never count calories and we need fat and olive oil is a healthy fat!”

Every week we read articles about the benefits of Mediterranean Diet. We are informed that eating a diet high in veggies, fruit, fish and olive oil is the best way to protect ourselves from heart disease and cancers. Olive oil is hailed as the secret to long life and good health. Are these claims right?

Dr Dean Ornish states that the benefit of olive oil is only due to replacing the more saturated fats in person’s diet, this of course will bring some benefits. Just by replacing (weight for weight) butter with olive oil you will see lowered cholesterol levels. This is not due to the magic powers of olive oil but just merely thanks to abolishing the butter. Dr. Ornish promotes rapeseed oil as a much healthier option especially for its Omega 3 content. Still it is a high calorie food.

Drs Esselstyn and McDougall advise against the use of all oils and Dr Fuhrman allows around 1TBS of oil a day provided you are healthy weight, in good health and active. He advises against oil consumption if trying to loose weight. The Pritikin Longevity Centre recommends keeping oil consumption to 1 teaspoon a day.

When doing my research on the matter I came across the fascinating world of Monasteries on the Greek Mount Athos. The male population of monks have surprised experts by their incredibly low prostate cancer rates (about 1/4 of of the international average),further cases of lung, bladder and bowel cancers are non existent; so is heart disease and Alzheimer’s. The monks eat a diet rich in plant foods; fruits, vegetables, rice, pasta, soya and pulses. They eat twice a day and meals last only 10min leading to calorie restriction. They strictly observe
3 non dairy/no olive oil days in a week. Dairy is rather rare to the island as no female animals (except for cats) are allowed on the monastery premises. The monks observe weeks of fasting when only vegan diet is consumed. They eat fish on feast days only, i.e Christmas. They get by on very little sleep as the day starts at 3am with an 8 hour long service. Their everyday routine doesn’t change, it consists of prayer, silence and work (the monks are as self sufficient as possible). Their are cut off from news from the outside world which in my opinion contributes to further calmness of mind and non existence of stress.

We may not all choose to live like monks on Mount Athos but we could all do with adopting their way of eating. As for oils I used them sparingly, some days (like the monks) we have none at all, others I may have use 1/2- 2 Tbs in my cooking (this is to serve 4). I do prefer to get my fats from seed, nuts and avocados.

To find out bit more about the olive oil controversy have a look at this very informative article from the Pritikin Longevity Centre:


To prepare the artichokes you need the patience of a Mount Athos monk. It is not an easy task at first but once you get a hang of it, believe me, it will get easier. Just have a large bowl for all the cuttings, you will end up with lots of remains to put on your compost heap. There are some great step by step guides on the web. All the effort is well worth it, fresh artichokes are delicious and so different from the jarred ones ( which I equally love).

Serves 4


4 large globe artichokes
2 lemons
400g (just under a pound) of small new potatoes
500ml homemade vegetable stock (or light bought vegetable stock)
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme
2 large cloves of garlic
1 cup peas or broad beans

  1. First prepare the artichokes. Fill a bowl, that will hold the artichokes, with water and juice of a lemon (this prevents artichokes from going brown). Depending on the length of the artichoke stalk cut some off leaving about 2 inches. Pull off the outer leaves of the artichokes, when you see light more tender leaves using a sharp knife cut off the top half of artichoke, scoop out all the choke (purple and light green feathery strands) until you are left with the heart. Cut off any remnants of the tough leaves on the outside of the heart. Peel the stalk. When working with the artichoke rub any cut (exposed) area with lemon to prevent browning. When finished place the artichoke into the lemon water before proceeding with the next one.
  2. Cut the artichokes into 4 pieces lengthways.
  3. Clean the potatoes, halve the larger ones, leave the smallest one whole.
  4. In a large lidded pan heat the veggie stock, add juice of half a lemon, the artichokes, potatoes, bay leaves, thyme and garlic. Bring to a boil, turn heat down and simmer covered for about 20min or till tender.
  5. Add the peas (or shelled broad beans) and cook for further 2 min.
  6. Serve with some crusty bread to mop up the lemony stock.