Ensalada De Haba
Fresh Broad Bean Salad
Broad (fava) beans aren’t native to Mexico – they were brought by the Spaniards after the conquest – but they’ve been roundly embraced over the course of hundreds of years. They’re often used in soups and stews, but my favourite way to eat them is in this simple salad, where young unpeeled broad beans are tossed with olive oil, salt and coriander. (The amount of coriander here may seem like a lot, but it’s what makes the salad shine.) This makes a hearty side dish with a few tacos, or a filling snack.
1.8kg broad beans still in their pods, or 700g podded very young broad beans with the waxy skins still on
? small onion plus 2 tbsp diced
12 sprigs of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
2 tbsp mild olive oil
If using whole broad beans still in their pods, remove the pods and place the beans in a bowl, their waxy inner skins intact.
Fill a small saucepan halfway with water. Add the onion half and – tsp salt and bring to the boil.
Add the beans and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the beans are tender, 3-5 minutes, depending on the bean size. Don’t overcook them, otherwise the beans will turn mushy. Drain the beans and leave to cool to room temperature.
Rinse the diced onion briefly in cold water. Drain and add to the beans, along with the chopped coriander and olive oil. Stir well and season with more salt. Serve immediately.
Older broad beans will taste bitter or leathery if the skins are left on. Young beans have a firm, pleasant bite. Look for beans that have a delicate, almost mint-green colour in the pod and avoid yellowish-green or brown-speckled beans, which are too old and won’t taste right. You could also try skinning the beans for this salad, but the flavour will be creamier and nuttier, and might need a spritz of lime juice.
Extracted from Eat Mexico by Lesley T’llez (Kyle Books, approx €24). Photograph by Penny De Los Santos.