I know, I know, it’s another recipe using asparagus. I was going to save it until next year but I’ve decided that it tastes too damn good for that. This is one of those dishes that has me stuffing my face uncontrollably – only when I finish my second third helping do I realise I am over-full. The broad beans I laid my hands on were perfect and young, so most needed only an initial podding, the outer skins were so soft and edible. I still take some pleasure though, from squeezing the cooked beans from their wrinkled jackets and watching the almost fluorescent green buttons pop through.
This is the kind of salad I like to lay out at a barbecue, it looks so summery and smells so fragrant. I demand that, as you stir the vinaigrette, onions and herbs through the hot beans and bacon, you put your face close to the bowl and take a deep breath, the reward will be a momentary intoxication. Imagine this, the freshness of the beans and asparagus, crispy, salty bacon, punchy spring onions, all glistening and flecked shades of green with herby vinaigrette. You could use just about any mixture of soft herbs for this salad – I used parsley, chives, mint and dill.
Broad Beans, Bacon, Asparagus & Spring Onions with Herb Vinaigrette
900g broad beans (unpodded weight)
10 asparagus spears
4 rashers smoked bacon or pancetta
4 spring onions, finely shredded
A small handful each of 3 or 4 herbs of your choice. I used dill, parsley, mint and chives – roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 heaped teaspoon wholegrain mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or other wine vinegar or lemon juice)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper
– Pod the beans and trim the asparagus by bending each spear until it snaps and discarding the woody end (not the tips). Wash thoroughly.
– Simmer the asparagus and beans for 3-5 minutes, depending on size, until just tender (I cooked my asparagus and beans separately).
– Grill the bacon or pancetta until crisp and chop into bite size pieces.
– When the vegetables are ready, remove the tough outer skins from any larger broad beans and add to a serving bowl with the asparagus and bacon/pancetta.
– To make the vinaigrette, crush the garlic in a pestle and mortar with some sea salt. Add the mustard and some black pepper and stir in. Add the vinegar and then the oil, whisking to emulsify.
– Add the onions and herbs to the bowl, pour in the desired amount of vinaigrette (I used the lot) and stir to combine. Serve immediately – although it is also delicious cold.