Broad minded

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Its spring! Yup, you know how spring is always portrayed in kids’ books as the one with all the rain? (As well as bulbs popping, lambs skipping, yes, but always the rain) Well, that is this spring too a tee thus far. It hardly seems fair that we get all the tropical storms handed down, but none of the other tropical stuff – balmy nights all year, mangoes on tap and gently lapping waters that aren’t one cousin removed from Antarctic.

But we do get broad beans, they’re good. Used to hate them, now I love them – the way most folks feel about them, I’ve learned. It doesn’t help that so many in the older generations served them with their wrinkly grey jackets intact, what a turn-off. Gently easing each little broad bean inner out takes time but it is not a step to be skipped.

Here’s a nice idea with those broad beans, and very healthy alternative to shop-bought dips. The preserved lemon and mint work so well together and with the green, nutty taste of the beans. Yoghurt rounds it out and adds creaminess, and the whole thing comes together to give a subtly North African feel. All you do is:

Blanch your broad beans in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and refresh then ease the beans from the wrinkled skins into a bowl, one by one. Add a generous amount of preserved lemon skin, finely chopped. Smash these two ingredients up. I used a muddling tool (thanks, Bacardi) which was actually the perfect thing for it. But you could use a pestle or a wooden spoon. Stir through lots of finely chopped mint leaves and some Greek yoghurt and season with salt and pepper and drizzle with evoo.

Instead of crackers or crudités, try spooning this dip onto tender, grilled rounds of olive-oil doused eggplant, and you might just have a new favourite, nourishing snack. Thank you, rainy spring, for your delicious bounty.

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