Broad Beans with Soft Ricotta Cheese / Fagioli con morbido ricotta Cheese)
In Italy, broad beans are known as fava beans. For their relatively small size, fava beans pack an incredible amount of nutrients. They are a great source of protein and carbohydrates, as well as vitamins A, B1 and B2. “When broad beans have come into season and are very young and tender, they are raw. At Ristorante Cappuccini Convento in Campania, cooked broad beans are served with goat's cheese. The restaurant is in what was once a convent, carved out high on a cliff overlooking the Amalfi road. The chefs buy their vegetable from old convents in the region.” Claudia Roden
- ½kg broad beans in the pod OR 250g frozen podded broad beans
- I large white onion, thinly sliced
- 4 tablespoons of good cooking olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- A handful of fresh mint leaves, partly shredded
- 150g soft vegetarian ricotta cheese, at room temperature
- 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- The juice from half of a fresh lemon (optional)
- Remove the fresh broad beans from the pod. Slit open each pod along its seam and run your thumb along the furry inside to push the beans out. Add the broad beans into a pan of salted boiling water which barely covers the beans. Return to the boil, put a lid on the pan, and simmer the broad beans for 4 minutes or until fork tender. Drain in a colander, allow to cool, cover and set aside.
- If using 250g frozen beans cook them from frozen in a microwave oven (advice for 800W microwave). Transfer the broad beans into a microwaveable dish and add 100ml of water and cover. Cook on full power for 4 minutes. Remove the cover and stir. Re-cover and continue cooking for a further 4 minutes. After cooking, drain in a colander and transfer to a bowl. Allow to stand for 1 minute, cover and set aside. (Cooking time may vary slightly depending on microwave power and quantity cooked. Always ensure product is cooked right through before serving).
- Allow the cheese to warm to room temperature. Add the ricotta to a bowl and drizzle 1 tbsp of extra virgin oilive oil over the cheese. Using a spoon stir the mix thoroughly. Cover and set aside.
- Fry the onion over low heat in 2 tablespoons of the oil, add a pinch of salt and stir frequently. Cook until the onion is transparent and soft, about 8 minutes stirring often.
- Add the broad beans to the onion and stir for 1-2 minutes, season lightly with salt and pepper, and simmer for 5 minutes, until the juices are absorbed, stirring frequently.
- Add the mint leaves just before the end of cooking and stir to mix thoroughly.
- Serve immediatly while still hot into warmed bowls and place blobs of ricotta cheese on top, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice if you like. ****************