Broad bean crostini and cocktails – for one!


20070714_broadbeancrostini1Regular readers of this blog will know that I have been moaning rather regularly about the weather of late.  I mean, it’s late July already and it feels as if we are still waiting for summer to get underway!  It’s all too depressing.  In fact, the only warm days I remember recently were the Henley Regatta weekend earlier this month and, miraculously, last Friday and Saturday.  It’s not often weekends and good weather coincide…

I was planning on Nick and I spending some time trying to wrest order from the chaos that is our home and maybe do something nice for dinner… and then on Friday he announced that he was in fact off to a touch rugby tournament all day on Saturday.  Harumph.  OK, so I could have soldiered on like a martyr, doing all the chores while he kicked odd-shaped balls around, but that simply would not be my style 😉  Instead, I threw open the garden door, pottered around with my plants a bit and then spread the picnic rug on the grass and lay down with my book (the rather wonderful Hearts in Atlantis – Stephen King at his most poignant and least gory best).  Utter contentment.  Lunch was a hastily thrown-together tuna salad, also enjoyed al fresco as I could not tear myself away from my garden.

As the sun sank and the weather grew cooler I headed inside and heard from Nick that he20070714_broadbeanpod  was probably eating with the touch rugby boys, so I was free to make what I wanted for dinner.  It took about 3 seconds of deliberation to decide that this would definitely feature the bag of broad beans in the fridge!  Aaaah, broad beans.  Can there be a vegetable that I’ve fallen more in love with over the past couple of years?  So seasonal and so perfectly packaged by nature and so damn delicious.  There are few things I loke more than sitting ou the back step looking out over the garden, glass of wine by my side, and podding broad beans on a summer evening.  Yes, it’s time consuming but so worth it.

Usually I would make something along the lines of the Spanish dish of broad beans and jamon Iberico drizzled with olive oil, but somehow tonight seemed the right time for something girly and different – after all, how often do I get to enjoy an evening totally free of TV, cooking girly food, sipping girly cocktails and listening to my decidedly un-girly new favourite CDs (Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible and My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade)?  So I settled on canapes and cocktails for dinner.  You only live once.

20070714_kirroyale1For the crostini, I decided on a broad bean spread, laced with a little chunk of leftover feta cheese in the fridge and garnished with slivers of pecorino.  And for the cocktails, I was in a quandry.  On the one hand, I was keen to celebrate summer the traditional English way with a Pimms.  But then again, I had glugged down litres of the stuff at the Henley Regatta the previous week and maybe it was time for a change.  So instead I plumped for another of my summer favourites:  my version of the kir royale.  A proper kir royale consists of creme de cassis and champagne, but my version contains cava and cherry liqueur (don’t bother with any sort of expensive bubbly unless you have money to burn and people to seriously impress).  As an added twist, I placed half a fresh cherry, liberally soaked in cherry liqueur, in the bottom of the flute.  Oh yes.  The cherry drifts gently up and down in the glass all night, trailing a comet’s tail of bubbles behind it.  Too lovely!

As for the crostini, they were delicious with a fresh, summery taste.  I made the broad bean paste quite coarse with chunks of whole bean still apparent, but if you wanted a smoother paste you could use a food procssor. You could then easily use it as a dip.  The feta was good for binding the mix together but has quite a strong taste of its own.  Next time I might consider replacing it with finely grated pecorino or parmesan, and garnishing with a crisp of jamon Iberico.  I also thought the toasted bread crostini were a bit too… bready.  Possibly toasted squares of pita bread might work better?  I see some happy experimentation coming up, for as long as the broad bean season lasts!

BROAD BEAN CROSTINI (serves 2 if served as canapes)20070714_broadbeancrostini2

Ingredients (lots of guesswork here – be creative till it tastes right to you!)

8-10 slices of baguette, sliced diagonally in thin slices
500g unshelled broad beans (fava beans)
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
about 30g feta cheese
1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste
Pecorino or parmesan shavings to garnish


Slice your baguette into thin slices (1cm), lay the slices on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil.  Toast under a medium grill, turning once, until browned.

Pod the beans and boil in water for about 5 minutes.  Cool them with cold water, then peel the greyish outer skin from each bean to reveal the bright green beans inside.

Crush the beans with a potato masher for a rustic texture or puree in a food processor if you want a smooth paste.  Add the crumbled feta cheese, garlic, olive oil and a splash of lemon juice and mash some more.  (I also reserved a couple of the teensiest beans for garnishing.) Add black pepper and salt to taste.

Spoon the bean mixture onto the toasted bread slices and top each with a shaving of pecorino or parmesan cheese and a teensy broad bean.  If you have not added much salt yet and you thing the paste is too bland, sprinkle with fleur de sel before serving. 20070714_kirroyale2

Serve with cocktails!



Cava or prosecco
Cherry liqueur
Half a fresh cherry per glass


Place a half cherry in the bottom of each champagne flute.  Pour a tot of cherry liqueur over it and leave to stand for 10 minutes or so (longer if practical).  Top up each glass with bubbly and serve immediately.

This post is being submitted as my entry for this month’s Blog Party – the wonderful monthly event hosted by the lovely Stephanie in which I’ve participated far too infrequently! 

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  1. says

    Sorry to hear you’re not having enough warm weather. If it’s any consolation, we’re literally roasting here. If only we could average out our temperatures! The fava bean crostini sounds wonderful. I’ve never cooked these myself. I bought some in SF at the Ferry Building and was all set to try them for the first time, and then I left the beans in the refrigerator of the hotel when I came home! Someday I must taste them. Love the idea of having a bit of feta in there!

  2. says

    Jeanne – I am good at reading, so bad at leaving comments! So here is one of my first: I love the color this puree and your story of a girl’s day/night in. I don’t have broad beans, but I have been eating a spicy fresh green pea puree recently, and now definitely need to swap the chillies for some garlic and feta.
    PS – I saw Arcade Fire live in May (not in Zim, obviously – back during my visit home!); it was quite a show!

  3. says

    I’m full of admiration for you having a one person party in the garden and celebrating the one day of summer!
    Broad beans used to be one of those childhood hates of mine. The skins were too tough and they get a less than enticing flavour as they age. It was only as an adult in Italy that I tasted a puree di fave like yours and it was a revelation, still a grown-up flavour but nothing like the boiled tough mush that I remembered!
    Hope your summer improves.

  4. says

    When Goon is away, I also get out the Cava to make kir royales. Funny that isn’t it? :) I usually use cassis because the cherry brandy always mysteriously disappears within a few days of me buying it. Or I steal some of Goon’s cognac and make champagne cocktails.
    I don’t normally make canapes but it is something I think I’ll try when the weather gets better. For my nights in by myself, I either make something he hates like curries or rare calves liver (because I don’t get to eat it otherwise) or something he really likes to make him jealous!

  5. says

    Cheap bubbly? Jeanne…you deserve the best!
    Hope it warms up there. Summer’s arrived finally, but I didn’t complain about the cool weather since I’ve been through enough broiling-hot, unventilated summers in France.

  6. says

    Oh no….Please NO!!
    Kir Royale actually means something and it doesn’t mean what you’ve said.
    Canon Kir was a real person, a champion of the poor blackcurrant farmers of the area, a hero of the Resistance during WWII, later the respected Mayor of Dijon. The drinks (Kir & Kir Royale) that bear his name honour him and what he stood for.
    Call your cocktail of cheap fizz and cherry liqueur anything you like, but please don’t misuse Kir’s name. Cava and cherries has nothing to do with Canon Kir.
    A Kir is dry white wine, Bourgogne Aligote, with blackcurrant Cassis. A Kir Royale uses the local fizz – Champagne – instead of Aligote.

  7. says

    Hi, celebrate every minute of sunshine there is and treat yourself to a Kir …but not cherryade. I’m afraid Peter is right: kir is made from Creme de Cassis – blackcurrant – and as it’s tres fort you need very very little, just enough to give it a flavour but not have it tasting like Ribena!
    You could also try Creme de Mure – blackberries this time – even more classy. Enjoy!

  8. says

    Oh I’d LOVE to average out temperatures with you any time!! We are far more in danger of being washed away in a flood this summer than being roasted… And yes, I do hope you get to try broad beans soon. To me, the taste really epitomises summer.
    I know what you mean – sometimes I do loads of reading of blogs but neglect to leave diligent comments. Glad you had a chance to stop by today :) I am a great proponent of an indulgent night at home – and I love the idea of a spice pea puree, either as a dip or on crostini. Maybe even a mixture of broad beans and peas?? And you lucky thing – you saw Arcade Fire!! I am deeply envious as I believe their UK shows in Nov are sold out :(
    You joke – but that’s exactly what the weather forecasetrs said: There will be one day of summer this year and it will be on 15 July. OK, so they were one day out, but other than that, pretty accurate :( I yearn for the mild South African winters, particularly those sneaky bergwind days that surprise you right inthe middle of winter. I also first had broad beans with their skins on in Spain and it’s a different vegetable altogether. Much better with the skins off, even if it does take an eternity!
    LOL – I think we are secretly twins separated at birth 😉 That sounds a lot like our household. I reserve things like bowls of broad beans and jamon iberico, or spicy lentils especially for nights when Nick is out. He regards these as side dishes; I regard them as a meal. Oh yes, and cocktails ALWAYS feature on my menu-for-one!
    Awww, thanks!! Expensive champagne… because we’re worth it :) The only reason I go for cava here is that I reckon once you’ve dosed it with liqueur, you are going to lose much of the subtle complexity of a good bottle of bubbly – so rather save that for drinking on its own later. And best of luck keeping cool in The Garret this summer. Have a Berthillon ice cream for me…
    Whoops, I didn’t realise that Kir Royale was DOC protected and that you are the global enforcer of the DOC rule 😉 But what with my liberal use of quotation marks around the name as well as a link to The Real Thing, I doubt that my astute readers will be confused.
    Hi and thanks for stopping by Cooksister. You are right – given the weather we are having, we certainly have to celebrate every minute of sunshine we get this year! As I said above, I do in fact make it clear in the post that this is merely my riff on a classic cocktail. And seeing as I was on my own and had cava and cherry liqueur on hand, I wasn’t really going to go on a special shopping trip for other ingredients for the sake of cocktail correctness 😉

  9. says

    Looks delicious! I’ve made something similar before but it was before I started photographing every item of food in the vicinity so unfortunately I can’t show you :-)

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  11. says

    Can’t believe I found this just as I am sipping on my version of kir….not the best dry white wine with a slug of home made sloe gin……gorgeous ……and I also have broad beans and half a ciabatta in the freezer plus some parmesan in the fridge……so all I need now is to download Fifty Shades on to Kindle and who cares if the LOML is not here to enjoy it all!!!