To double-pod or not to double-pod, as Hamlet might have asked if he’d spent more time in Elsinore’s kitchens instead of stabbing bits of tapestry and getting terminally depressed. It’s a valid question and one which is almost as divisive as the state of Denmark’s politics in the late Middle Ages.
Some people are scathing about the idea of double-podding broad beans. Others detest the taste of the skins. I take a middle position: I enjoy the flavour of the skins when the beans are young and fresh but dislike the bitterness, toughness and greyish colour they can develop as they age.
For this recipe I’d suggest you go to the trouble of double-podding, for flavour, tenderness and colour. If the beans are fresh, blanch them for a minute in boiling water. If they’re frozen (and that’s fine) just defrost them.
Either way, nick the skin with your fingernail and squeeze gently and the bright green beans will shoot out of their skins, sometimes to the startlement of your cat. It really doesn’t take long but if you baulk at the sheer volume of beans here, mix in some fresh or frozen peas, blanched briefly if fresh, defrosted and drained if frozen.
Don’t skimp on the total quantity though. Unlike French omelettes with their elegant sufficiency of filling, frittatas and tortillas should be jam-packed and be deep enough when cooked to cut like a cake.
Broad Bean and Mint Frittata
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
500-550g broad beans, podded weight
6 large eggs
1-2 tbsp chopped fresh mint, to taste
2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying
Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a pan and gently fry the onions until soft and golden. Add the garlic and fry for a minute more. Set aside to cool.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add the beans, chopped mint, parmesan and the cooled onion mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Heat the grill to medium-high. In an omelette pan or similar, heat another tablespoon of oil and add the frittata mixture. Cook the frittata very, very slowly on a low heat until mostly set but still wobbly in the middle. Cooking it on too high a heat will give you a leathery bottom which I think we can all agree is best avoided.
Flash under the grill to set and lightly brown the top but don’t overdo it – it should still be slightly soft in the centre as it will continue to cook as it cools.
Ease the sides with a small palette knife, and using oven gloves, put a plate over the top and flip the frittata so the bottom is now the top. If you’re worried that the base looks too dark, flip it again.
Allow to cool for at least 15-20 minutes to allow it to finish setting and because I think it’s best eaten lukewarm. If you refrigerate it, make sure it comes back to room temperature before you eat it.
We ate our with a rocket salad and Indian-spiced bubble-and-squeak cakes, which were much nicer than they probably sound.