Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Broad Beans

Sun 15 June 2008

Someone at work (with an allotment) commented on how many broad beans he had. The next day, I had a pile on my desk.

Now, I'm not so keen (at all) on huge, floury broad beans which have been boiled out of existence. But young, tender, small beans, with a taste somewhere between pea and asparagus ... that's different.

For a moment I almost tried to do something curried with them, but sanity prevailed and I headed towards The Silver Spoon. While we could have just eaten the beans raw, with some Pecorino, I chose the fave alla piemontese: Piedmontese broad beans. I decided it would serve well as a simple pasta sauce, and, with some left over very Italian style salad, we would have a more than serviceable light supper.

Beans podded, I cooked them in boiling water for about 5-10 minutes. The recipe says 10 minutes, but they were so tiny and fresh, I figured I could get away with less. Beans cooked and drained, they were tipped into a frying pan and plenty of cream was added. The cream simmered and thickened and finally I added some grated Emmenthal (the recipe said Fontina, but we couldn't find any). A good stir allowed the cheese to melt through and finally, I tipped in cooked pasta ... and away we went. Parmesan and pepper optional!

Not a lot of visual interest perhaps!

I loved it. A simple sauce dressing a load of pasta and I'm as happy as the proverbial pig in mud. For Andy, it's just bread and cheese. "Well, you could have put some ham or bacon in it", "It would be alright without the pasta as a side dish" (hmm, as intended, then).

We did manage to agree on the wine. I was after a really green wine to go with this dish: something high in acidity to cut through the cream and cheese, and something that would really pick up on the pea, broadbean, asparagus, vegetal theme. I thought a reasonably obvious choice would be an Old World Sauvignon Blanc. We ended up buying a Henry Pellé 2006 Menetou-Salon from Oddbins (link goes through to 2005 vintage), for £9.99. A very pale wine with a not overly pronounced nose. Principally gooseberry, with some green vegetable notes like pea. The palate was more pronounced, with the same green vegetable notes, as well as citrus, gooseberry and even some lychee. The acidity was pretty high and the length wasn't bad either. Certainly a lot more approachable than the £5 Argentinian Viognier from Wine Blogging Wednedsay. And it didn't go too badly with the food.

But. £10? Really? Not worth it. One of my friends is (almost exclusively) drinking an £8 Sancerre which, if my memory serves me correctly, represents much better value for money.

If I were to reproduce the meal again, I'd serve the creamy beans (minus pasta) and salad as side dishes to a juicy steak. And to drink, I'd be tempted to revisit a Cabernet Franc. The Chinon we enjoyed a couple of months back had the right vegetal notes, and it would work well with both the steak and the beans (OK, I might have to rethink the salad). And I'd still be spending £10 on wine. Oh well, I'll know for next time ...

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