This week we have managed to get hold of some very early new-season Tassie Purple garlic, from Van Diemen Garlic. Grown in Middleton under weed gunnel using organic-approved inputs, Mat’s garlic is still fresh and fragrant but won’t need refrigeration like true “fresh” garlic. Fresh herbs also feature, with home-growers Amy & Dale dishing up mint and flat-leaf parsley respectively, and Hills Hydroponics offering lovely bunches of flowering thyme.
We’ve also got a broad-bean-bonanza happening, thanks to Alex from Golden Valley Farm. Broad beans aren’t everyone’s favourite vegetable, an ambivalence that almost inevitably seems to stem from bad experiences in childhood. A few top suggestions to break the curse:
- DON’T overcook them. (This applies to all vegetables, unless you want to get scurvy…)
- Broad beans don’t have the natural sweetness of peas – like other starchier varieties, they live to absorb flavours from other ingredients. Garlic, herbs, olive oil, salt, lemon… you’ll get back what you put in.
- Really small broad beans can be eaten pod and all, but larger broad bean “peas” can often benefit from blanching and then removing the tougher outer skin.
Broad beans – and other legumes too – are nature’s way of giving life back to the soil. Legumes have the unique ability to convert sunlight into nitrogen (a slight oversimplification…), a nutrient that is utterly essential for plants and in commercial agriculture is often supplied by fossil-fuel based fertilisers, which without careful management can lead to a raft of other problems. (Animal manure is of course another great provider of nitrogen, which is why animals are such a vital part of organic farm systems.) So not only are legumes delicious, but they’re also great for the environment! And what better way is there to bring a family together than round a bowl podding beans…