Broad beans come and go quickly in spring, and we were lucky to be delivered a paper bag of pods in our vege box, along with some excellent asparagus. A 'broadbeans' tag is tucked into my recipe bookmarks for just such a moment; this season I pulled out a salad recipe that Anna posted on beans & barley five years ago.
I made a couple of minor changes, swapping the rocket for vege box lettuce and serving the ricotta in big dollops rather than tossing it through the salad. It's rare that I use honey at all, but I loved the way it combined with apple cider vinegar in the dressing (and I'm sure it'd be fine to use maple syrup or similar instead).
With a vibrant green foundation of lettuce, broad beans and asparagus, richer protein in the ricotta and hazelnuts, and a lively sweetness in that honey-vinegar dressing we found that this had everything we needed for a light dinner.
Springtime salad with ricotta & hazelnuts
(slightly adapted from a recipe on beans & barley)
handful of hazelnuts
450g unpodded broad beans
1 bunch asparagus
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 handfuls green leaves, rinsed
100g fresh ricotta
salt and pepper, to taste
Gently toast the hazelnuts in a dry frypan, then set them aside.
Fill a large pot with water and bring it to the boil. Extract the broad beans from their pods and discard the pods. Chop the asparagus into 3-5cm lengths. When the water is boiling, add in the broad beans and blanch them for no more than 2 minutes. Scoop out the broad beans and add the asparagus to the water, blanching them for 1-2 minutes before scooping them out.
Heat the apple cider vinegar in a small saucepan. Stir in the honey until it's dissolved. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Hopefully by now the hazelnuts are cool enough to handle. Rub off their brown skins and roughly chop the nuts.
When the broad beans are cool enough to handle, use your fingernails or a small knife to remove the skins from the beans.
Arrange the green leaves in a bowl or on a platter. Arrange the broad beans and asparagus on top, then dot over teaspoonfuls of the ricotta and scatter over the hazelnuts. Pour the dressing over the top and serve.