Produce report: December 12
Local beans have arrived — well in time for the Christmas dinner table.
The first round ones from Pukekohe and local flat varieties are also inching their way into supermarket produce sections. If you are lucky you may even be able to pick up a pack of organic broad beans (also known as fava beans) — try Farro Fresh.
When small, the broad bean pod can be eaten too and when very small the beans can be eaten raw, like peas (also in good supply in store now). Fully grown (when you can see the shape of the bean bulging inside the pod) only the bean will be palatable. If you have broad beans growing in the garden, do as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recommends and pinch out the leafy top shoots after flowering and stir-fry them in butter until lightly wilted. They make, he says, a delicious side dish in their own right and a fine filling for a tart or omelette.
Broad beans freeze well. Remove the beans from their pods and blanch.
Broad beans are high in protein, folates, phyto-nutrients and have good amounts of vitamin B6, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin and one of the highest plant sources of potassium. Fresh or frozen broad beans paired with mint and cheese (ricotta, goat’s or parmesan) make a classic bruschetta topping but Nadia Lim takes the combo and serves it with risoni for dinner. It’s a handy recipe to keep close over Christmas, swapping out the bacon for cubes of leftover ham.
Asparagus is now in shorter supply. Low overnight temperatures in the Waikato have dropped the soil temperature, slowing growth. Fingers crossed for a rerun before the season ends in January.
Berries are abundant and prices are lowering.
Hydrangea season has begun. If, after a while, they look floppy, just dip their heads in water or place the stems in boiled water for three minutes and see them come back to life. Peonies are also in good supply.
You know how good those stir-fried beans are from Chinese restaurants; well it's a cinch to cook them at home, too. Warren Elwin shows you how.