Some of the best food I have ever experienced was during a visit to the Greek Islands. My mum was house-sitting for several months on the island of Paros (as you do), so I flew across the world to visit her. It was winter so the tavernas (small Greek restaurants often run by the whole family) were very quiet, however, that didn’t impede on the quality of the food.
Every meal was perfect, simply flavoured, and always accompanied by homemade bread, house-pressed olive oil and wine made from grapes grown on the island – or from the courtyard of the taverna itself. In a way it was like coming home for me, summing up all that I believe in – eating local, eating in season, keeping it simple.
The salata I share today is to celebrate eating local as we did in Greece. All the ingredients are sourced from my garden and our greater region of local producers. It truly is a labour of love preparing broad beans, however, when each bite results in the perfect balance of flavours it is worth every ounce of effort. With our small plate of salata we sat together on our veranda now completely shaded by the magnolia growing through it. The four of us ,with a fork each, piercing the tender beans and squeaky halloumi (yep, halloumi really is squeaky much to the children’s delight!).
As we sat we admired the new addition to our garden, a glasshouse my husband built over several weeks. Made from a foundation of concrete blocks including a block wall at the rear that warms up during the day to radiate heat through the night. The windows were recycled from a friend’s house that is being renovated, and the door and roof made from twinwall polycarbonate (kind of like the plastic equivalent of double glazing) – unfortunately a secondhand glass door could not be found, and patience was wearing thin to get planting. The temperature in the glasshouse is already reaching 45C during the day. The tomato plants that can be seen through the window were planted only 2 weeks ago! A huge thanks to my clever husband for having the idea and making it happen. This is going to be an amazing summer of homegrown goodness.
My broad bean plants had to make way for the new glasshouse so I picked up a large bunch at the Farmers market. However, if you do have broad beans in the garden make sure to harvest them early while the pods are about 10cm long and still have a matt-textured skin. Once they are larger and shiny the skins will be tougher and best slipped off before eating. I haven't added exact quantities for some of the ingredients, taste and adjust to suit your palette, let the simple flavours shine!
approx. 500g broad beans
100g halloumi - I used goat milk Halloumi from Cranky Goat
handful chopped mint leaves
sea salt and cracked pepper
extra virgin olive oil
- Remove the beans from the pods. Blanch in a pot of rapidly boiling water until the skins burst, about 2 minutes (depends how large the beans are). Refresh in cold water and drain thoroughly.
- Slice the halloumi into 5mm strips and grill in heavy-based saucepan until golden on both sides. Chop into cubes. Toss the broad beans, halloumi and chopped mint together. Season well and dress with lemon juice and olive oil. Eat immediately.