Broad beans are like a cross between a bean and a pea, but I only discovered them two weeks ago thanks to the team at QWeekend. Of course I had heard of broad beans before this, but I never tried them because I wasn't sure what to do with them or how to eat them. They're more tedious than 'tricky', but the effort is well worth it! You first have to remove the beans from the pods, blanch them for a few minutes, split the rubbery skin and pop out the yummy broad bean.

With this newfound knowledge, and a (somewhat) whimsical memory of our first meeting under my belt, I knew that I had to share the joy of broad beans with all of you. I found a heap at my local fruit & veg store and I'm sure you will be able to find them too. Broad beans are commonly used in salads, risottos and soups, but these little pods of loveliness translate across many different cultures. In China, they are combined with Sichuan pepper to make a fermented bean paste. In Columbia, Peru and Thailand they are fried with spices to make a crispy snack. Portugal sparks my interest (and my sweet tooth) most, though, as broad beans are used to make bolo-rei, a traditional Christmas cake. I'd certainly like to give that a go.