When my parents left for their annual six-month stay in the Greek island of Limnos, they left behind various plants in their garden next door to mine. This year, their koukia (broad bean) plants have been constantly producing massive pods as if they were on speed! As a result I harvest a large bag every week and more often than not share this wholesome organic produce with a lovely Albanian family that lives nearby. Grateful, my Albanian friend, Linda, shared her recipe for these beans with me and, having had a taste, I thought it was wonderful. She cooks them with fresh spinach, which I’ll definitely try next time. Today, I share with you my recipe which is just like Linda’s, except instead of spinach it uses peas.
About a cup of peas (frozen or fresh)
4-8 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
3-4 spring onions (chopped)
1 clove of garlic (chopped)
Dill, spearmint (use either, but a combination of the two is best!)
1 teaspoon of mustard (optional)
The beans require a special preparation. First, we cut the pods all around, then cut them in half if they are too long. If the pods are hard (overgrown) use only the seeds (minus the bit on the top of every seed inside in this case – just pick that off) and throw away the pods. Important! As you work away with the knife, throw the pods in a water where you’ve added the juice of one lemon. This stops the beans from turning black where you cut them. Wash the pods and seeds when you’re done cutting, then drain.
Next, throw the beans in a pan of boiling water. As soon as it comes to boil, remove and drain well. If you skip this step the beans will taste bitter so don’t miss this!
Saute the onions and garlic in the oil for a minute, add the peas (give it a stir in the pan first if frozen) and the beans. Stir and add hot water from the kettle. The water must cover the beans by about half way. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
Add dill, spearmint, salt, pepper. Leave uncovered if there’s excess liquid so it can evaporate in the next 5 minutes or so. Taste to adjust seasoning and to determine if the beans are tender enough.
When the food is ready, mix the juice of half a lemon with the mustard in a cup, then throw in pan. Stir gently and serve with fries (chips in the UK!), cheese and fresh bread. Or do as I did last time and serve with cheese pies. For a healthier alternative, go for a simple omelette with oregano.
Other suggestions: For a richer taste, add some curry powder or turmeric with the beans. Use a chopped carrot to add color. Another popular Greek variation is to use artichokes instead of peas.