Nicola Galloway: Broad Bean, Avocado and Feta Dip
Nicola welcomes broad bean season with a delicious spring snack.
I am enjoying growing broad beans again. After a year off last season, I missed their presence in the spring garden. I tend to pick broad beans when they are on the smaller side while the beans are still sweet and tender. The flowering tips can also be harvested, in moderation. They have a delightful broad bean flavour and can be added to salads, or sautéed as you would silverbeet or spinach. Don’t strip the plants, just take a little here and there, rotating around the stalks.
Most years in autumn once the summer crops have finished I direct sow a few one-metre blocks of broad beans in the garden. I love that broad beans are a double whammy plant providing edible food, while under the ground they are busy at work re-energising the soil. At the end of the season, I always leave a few plants with large bean pods to dry on the plants and then save the dried beans (seeds) for planting next season. And so the cycle continues…
Broad bean preparation:
When harvesting fresh broad beans I prefer to harvest the pods before they get too big. The smaller beans can be eaten raw in salads. Bigger beans are best blanched for several minutes in a saucepan of boiling water. Drain and refresh in cold water then slip the tougher grey-coloured skin from the beans, revealing the vibrant green beans. Add to salads, use in pesto or make this creamy broad bean dip.
Broad Bean, Avocado & Feta Dip
This fabulous dip is creamy while light with a hint of mint for a refreshing taste. With avocado so abundant and cheap at the moment it is a great match for freshly podded broad beans. The dip can also be made dairy-free, simply omit the cheese and use a whole avocado.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Makes about 1 cup
about 1 cup podded broad beans (can also use frozen or a combination of broad beans and peas)
½ perfectly ripe avocado
75g goat feta (or use a soft textured cow feta)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice of half a lemon
sprig of fresh mint
salt and cracked pepper to taste
Prepare the broad beans as described above.
Place the prepared beans and remaining ingredients into a food processor. Blitz until smooth and creamy. Check the taste, adding extra lemon and/or seasoning to balance the flavour.
This dip is best eaten immediately or within an hour of preparation. Serve with four seed crackers and/or vegetable sticks for dipping.
Four Seed Crackers
These crackers are delightfully crunchy with the added bonus of being gluten-, dairy- and nut-free.
Prep time: 20 minutes + soaking time
Cook time: 20-25 minutes
Makes 30-40 crackers
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup flax seeds OR chia seeds
1 tbsp poppy seeds
½ tsp sea salt + extra for sprinkling
Place the sunflower seeds into a bowl, cover with water and soak for 6 hours or overnight. The soaking helps the sunflower seeds blend into a paste for easier rolling.
When ready to cook the crackers, preheat the oven to 180C (fan 160C).
Drain and rinse the sunflower seeds in a sieve. Tip into a food processor, add the olive oil and process until the mixture comes together into a thick paste. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse to combine.
Tip the mixture onto the bench and divide into two squares. Roll each square between two sheets of baking paper as thin as possible – ideally 1mm thick. Sprinkle with extra salt and score into rectangular crackers.
Bake for 20 minutes until golden, swapping the trays halfway through. Check them after this time, you may need to remove the crackers from the outside of the tray and return the others to the oven for another 5 minutes to finish cooking.
Cool the crackers on a rack. Store in an airtight container in the pantry. Eat within 7 days.