It was hard to title this salad because it has so many good things going on that it’s hard to pick out the shining stars and fit it into a title. I guess that’s what they call a “high quality problem”.
I’ve been working on this salad for the last few weeks based on two inspiring meals from recent years. One was a lemony broad bean, sugar snap and dill salad had at the Wellcome Collection‘s cafe run by Peyton and Byrne, a couple of posh chef types who run a bunch of cafes and bakeries around London. The other was an asparagus, pea and broad bean salad with fresh goats curd had on the first night of our cooking course at Chateau Ventenac.
One of the reasons why I liked these salads is that they’ve helped me come to grips with one of the UK’s most common vegetables: the broad bean. Why all the fuss over a vegetable that’s so hard to deal with? First you have to pod the beans, then blanch them, then bean-by-bean remove their tough outer skin (optional, but recommended as the outer skin can be a bit tough and bitter), then finally do something with them. Some people puree them into a soup, others eat them on toast. But after all that effort, I want to know that the broad beans are there.
Of course, I probably would never have confronted the broad bean had it never become a staple of the summer season’s organic box. We’ve getting piles of broad beans in our Riverford organic box lately. So with the energy of Peyton, Byrne and Demuth behind me, I set out to create a fusion of the two salads, with a few extra additions of my own.
I like my salads crunchy, so I threw in a few thin-sliced radishes and cucumbers, both from the organic box. I also had a couple steamed potatoes in the fridge, leftovers from the potatoes we harvested a few days earlier from the potato pot. My mint was also looking pretty good so I grabbed a few leaves of that, too. For lack of fresh French goats curd, I used some rich Welsh goats cheese I recently discovered at the Organic Farm Shop in Cirencester.
What I like about this salad is that it defies the stereotype that all salads consist of a pile of leaves. Here, I kept the leaves to a minimum, adding just a handful of torn romaine lettuce leaves to intersperse among the main ingredients. I love the flavour of the dill with the cucumber, goat’s cheese and, of course, those broad beans. The mint kicked in a nice summery freshness and you can’t beat the crisp spice of a good radish.
This is definitely a salad I’ll make again. The only thing I missed was that fresh goats curd. It was soft, like a very thick Greek yogurt, but with the crumbly texture of a feta. I actually crave it. So I’ve got a litre of full cream goats milk in the fridge, destined for curd. This will be my first cheese experiment, and I can’t wait.
Dilly broad bean salad with sugar snaps and goats cheese
- 100g Broad beans, podded, blanched and de-skinned*
- 100g Sugar snap peas, blanched
- 1/4 cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 large radish, thinly sliced
- 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp each fresh dill and mint, chopped
- 1/4 lemon
- handful of salad leaves
- 1 potato, boiled or steamed, then sliced
- olive oil, enough to coat
- salt and pepper
- goats cheese
Put all of the vegetables into a bowl. Squeeze the juice from the lemon over the salad. Drizzle with olive oil. Springle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Crumble the goats cheese on top. Serve. Eat. Enjoy.
*To de-skin broad beans, cook in boiling water for 3 minutes, then remove from heat, drain and rinse with cold water to cool. Use your thumb to pinch a hole in the broad bean skin, then squeeze the broad bean to pop it out. It’s a bit of a pain, but totally worth it.