Possibly the best part of a broad bean is the leaf. But most often it is simply discarded, as usually the plant is grown purely for the bean to be picked at the height of ripeness and served fresh.
I love cooking with everything the plant throws at me and I adjust my processes accordingly. In salads I use the leaf when it is in its early growth stage. I cook the leaves as they become more mature. The young bean pods I grill whole, as you would edamame. When the beans are at their peak, I pod and skin them. Towards the end of the season, larger beans can be dried and used in the same way as lentils.
Broad beans grow very well through winter but they won’t show flowers, then bean pods, until early spring. In order to limit disease pressure it is common to pick the tops off the plant, and this is the point where I enjoy using them. Even though I do love the Zen state achieved through podding mountains of beans, the work required for the same flavour effect with the leaf is one of the great kitchen hacks.
This dish makes an ideal snack – served as a dip with crudité. It also keeps well in the fridge.
2018 Blind Corner chardonnay aligoté, 2018, Quindalup, WA ($30) – Mike Bennie, wine and drinks journalist