Broad beans hold a special place in my heart…
My Nonnoo used to grow them and they were my favourite (I ate them raw by the handful). As a little girl when I saw Nonnoo walk in with a big shopping bag full of broad beans I’d get excited & start eating them immediately. I don’t really remember ever eating them cooked, it was always raw – straight from the pod. I ate them too quickly for any to make it to a stove.
Nonnoo was Maltese and in Maltese broad beans are ‘full’. Right up until he wasn’t able to any more, any time I would say I was full at the dinner table he would look at me sideways with a smirk until I announced that I was in fact a broad bean, at which point I smirked back.
The memories of Nonnoo walking into my house as a child with his shopping bag (always knotted twice) of broad beans and chuckling across the dinner table at me whenever I’d eaten too much will never, ever leave me. You don’t even realise how special those little things are until someone is gone.
So, Nonnoo, even though I now have to buy my broad beans from the shop (actually I am now wondering why I haven’t grown any… I will have to do that!), and I do pack them into a small tupperware container raw as an afternoon snack for work, I am now all grown up and able to restrain myself long enough to get some into an actual meal.
I think Nonnoo would have liked this spaghetti.
- 1 cup of shelled fresh broad beans (10-12 large pods - don't bother peeling the beans)
- 200 grams of thin spaghetti
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- ½ a cup of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
- 2 tbls of good quality olive oil
- 4 tbls of good quality ricotta
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
- Black pepper, to serve
- In a large saucepan, cook the spaghetti as per packet instructions in well salted water, adding the broad beans to the boiling water half way through.
- Drain the spaghetti and broad beans, reserving ½ a cup of the pasta cooking water.
- On a medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of your olive oil to the pot with your garlic and stir with a wooden spoon until fragrant.
- Turn down the heat and add your pasta and broad beans, the reserved cooking water and half the basil to the pan - stir gentle with the wooden spoon until most of the water has evaporated (being careful not to let it dry out completely).
- Serve topped with dollops of ricotta, the rest of your basil, drizzles of your left over olive oil and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon.
If you take M’s advice, ‘the more lemon the better’.
My advice? Find the freshest ricotta possible – if it’s still warm when you buy it you know you’re onto a winner.
I hope you enjoy this spaghetti as much as we did.