JP McMahon: This broad bean puree is a great alternative to guacamole

In Istanbul this alternative to the popular avocado dish is flavoured with mint

Broad beans have a long tradition of cultivation and consumption, dating back to at least 6000 BC. As with lentils, chickpeas and peas, broad beans are relatively easy to grow and can survive in many different soil and climate types. Broad beans are often planted to prevent coastal erosion and enrich the soil with nitrogen, as well as for fodder for animals.

Broad beans often go by the name fava, particularly in countries outside Europe. Some writers and chefs distinguish between young and dried beans, referring to the latter as fava. The dried variety need to be soaked overnight and treated more like a chickpea. Fava means bean in Italian, so a fava bean is a strange linguistic tautology meaning bean bean.

How to make broad bean puree with mint

For those looking for an alternative to guacamole, broad bean puree is certainly one to consider. On a recent trip to Istanbul, I was pleasantly surprised to encounter a large plate of this puree surrounded by gorgeous Turkish extra virgin olive oil and fresh mint. I didn’t know Turkey produced so much olive oil, as well as cheese, olives and, of course, wine.

For this recipe, you can use fresh or frozen beans, just make sure to peel the leathery skin off the beans after cooking otherwise your puree will have a rather unpleasant mouth feel. If you buy fresh, you’ll need twice the amount as you’ll discard the outer shell.

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Take 200g of broad beans and blanch in boiling water for two to three minutes. Remove from the water and drop into a bowl of ice water. This will keep them nice and green. Peel the skin off the beans.

Fry one diced shallot in 50g of butter. When it is soft, add 100ml of white wine and 100ml of cream and bring to the boil. Add 200g of baby spinach and wilt. Place everything into a food processor and blend until smooth. Add a little water if it’s a little thick and pass through a fine sieve if you desire a smoother texture.