Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Bean tops - what do you do with yours?

One of the bonuses of growing your own vegetables is that you can use all the edible parts of the plant instead of just the parts that are on offer in shops and on market stalls – salsify buds, beet tops, courgette and squash flowers . . .

and one of my favourite things, broad bean tops:

The Crimson-flowered Broad Beans are setting little pods and it's time to nip out the top cluster of leaves; I take them down to the topmost flower bud that's showing colour. Last night I picked a couple of handfuls of broad bean tops and steamed them over a pan of new potatoes (bought Jersey Royals, ours won't be ready for a few weeks), the broad bean tops are ready when they start to smell of beans. Take them off the steam and drain then.

I added the bean tops to an ovenproof pan in which I'd cooked chopped smoked bacon, onion, garlic and diced sweet red pepper. Sprinkle with chopped savoury (the perfect partner for any beans) and chive florets, make sure everything is spread evenly over the bottom of the pan. Scatter over broken up feta cheese, then add the eggs – I used five eggs and a splash of semi-skimmed milk beaten together – pour evenly into the pan and gently shake to get it mixed in. Bake in the oven until it smells delicious and looks golden and gorgeous, like this . . .

Served with a potato salad made with the Jersey Royals I cooked the broad bean tops over, mixed into plain yogurt with a spoonful of mayonnaise and lots of freshly picked and chopped Moroccan mint.



  1. Oh, can I come to dinner? That sounds delicious. I've always left my bean tops on. Until last year I never had much problem with blackfly. This year I thought I might nip them off and give the chikens a treat, but they might have to fight me for them now!

  2. What a delicious looking meal. Thank you for the inspiration.

    (No garden here, but perhaps I can improvise with what I find at the weekly farmers' greenmarkets.)


  3. That has made me hungry! Looks delicious! :)

  4. sounds and looks delicious. I honestly did not know a person could eat the tops of broad beans. I'm going to be planting my garden today or tomorrow but likely won't be doing broad beans this year. The frost gets them every year before they mature.

  5. Great idea! I didn't know broad beans (favas) could have crimson flowers. Ours are always white.

  6. Looks delicious - I shall have a close look at ours, though I fear the blackfly may have got there first ...

  7. Mmmm...you're making me hungry again! When the cockatoos decimated my broad beans before they set, I gathered what was left of the young leaves, steamed them and ate them with lemon pepper and a knob of butter. And now? Up here, they come courtesy of Mr. Birdseye!

  8. That sounds like it could be dinner tomorrow! (If I leave out the bacon)

  9. Hi Veg Heaven - I find that the Crimson Flowered BBs stay blackfly free.

    Hi Frances - I loved visiting your blog and seeing that wonderful market in Manhatten. What an exciting place to live :-)

    Hi Karen - it was yummy!

    Hi Diane - BB tops are perfectly edible as long as you are absolutely sure that they are pesticide free.

    Hi Ed - apparently the Crimson Flowered BBs are an old UK variety - the simple discriptive name is an indicator that they are pre-19thC. The beans are bright green and have very thin skins - no need to peel ;-)

    Hi Dottycookie - it will be bad luck if they have got blackfly.

    Hi Moreidlethougts - lemon pepper and butter - that sounds good!

    Hi Gina - it will work fine without bacon (I just happened to have a couple of rashers which needed using up)


  10. I've always cooked and eaten the broad bean tops, but I've found few other people who know you can. People bring them in to my son's shop if they don't want to eat them - he doesn't sell them (customers are a bit suspicious) but he gives away handfuls for people to try.

    The only person I've found who knew they were edible is Elizabeth Jane Howard, who said it was an old country thing she remembered from childhood.

  11. Hi Z - I'm in good company then ;-) I probably got the idea from Joy Larkom - when I first got seriously into veg growing I devoured her books. Time for a re-read I think, they are jam packed with information and enthusiasm.



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