Broad Beans refer to the seed of a legume, Vicia Fava, the only beans native to Europe and was one of the first legumes to be harvested in Europe. and have been (at least) eaten since the Bronze Age. Broad beans are eaten as the whole pod when very young and up to 8 centimeters or as green unripe oval-shaped beans from more mature pods or up to 30 centimeters. They have long, flat, slightly dimpled green pods which are lined with a pale velvety padding protecting up to eight large seeds or beans inside. Broad beans which are also known as Fava are best in spring season when they are young, sweet and have a nutty, vegetal taste. Towards end of the spring season they are larger, tougher and more floury. The pod is usually discarded, often the skins of the beans are too, but when very young when they are less than 10 centimeters long, the entire bean including the pods, skins and beans can be eaten, and even the leaves isa said to be edible, too. Often, boiled but uncooked beans are eaten as a snack food in the eastern Mediterranean and ancient staple of many Middle Eastern and North African cuisines. Broad beans are eaten by the Italians in spring fresh and raw with fresh sheep's milk cheese ; in Sicily, they make them as Fritella, a caper-flavored stew of spring vegetables that includes the Fava. The Chinese eat and serve broad beans just simply boiled with dressings of garlic, chilli, soy sauce and sesame. Broad beans can also be made into salads with feta cheese, mint and lemon juice, or mixed into parsley sauce to serve with ham. Other green herbs that goes well with broad beans are savory and dill, besides mint and parsley. Older broad beans may be turned into a mash (much like a mash potato) and serve warm with pork or cold on oatcakes, by adding some mild spices they are good as dips for flat bread and crispy vegetables, such as carrots, cucumber (crudites) Broad beans are prepared in various ways: Fresh broad beans are ideally cooked straight after picking, if not available, they can be substituted with frozen beans. If the beans is very young and fresh there is no need to peel them to remove the skin, if not there is a need to blanch the podded beans in boiling water for 3 minutes, then drain under cold water and peel. To make a mash or if the beans are to be puréed, boil them for a longer period. Broad bean is also called Fava bean, Flava bean, Windsor bean, Shell bean, Scotch bean, Field Bean, Bell Bean or Tic Bean In Germany, we call Broad bean Dicke Bohne or Saubohne. In the Philippines, I think it is called Patani. I love this variety of beans very much, so I always see to it that I have a supply of frozen ones in my refrigerator. I only sautee them (without their skin) with tomatoes, garlic and onions, with chopped fresh basil, sometimes I add aubergine or zucchini and used it as a pasta sauce. I just invented this dish, but my husband likes it very much, and our gardener, too.

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