Broad bean hummus

The wavefront of wild garlic emergence, crashing northward through the country, has finally hit Aberdeen, trailing Spring in its wake. In celebration, I picked half a dozen leaves to make a bioregional dish I call Green Hummus.

The main ingredient of this is not actually ḥummuṣ (chickpeas) at all, but another pulse that grows far better in my Scottish garden: broad beans (Vicia faba). I used a heritage variety called ‘Crimson Flowered’ which makes a particularly green bean (a quality which completely fails to come out in the photo below) as well as a very attractive plant. I soak them for a few days then give them just 3 minutes at full boil in a pressure cooker. The complete ingredient list is:

200g (7 oz) cooked broad beans
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp water
lemon juice to taste
salt to taste
6 or more wild garlic leaves

green hummus ingredients

Preparation is simple: just blend all the ingredients together to a smooth texture. You are trying to make an emulsion, so if the mixture is still grainy, add a little bit more water.

As a quick glance at any supermarket shelf will tell you, you can mess about more or less endlessly with the basic formula. You could add some tahini to bring it closer to the traditional hummus bi tahina. You could make it more local by using rapeseed or hemp oil instead of the olive oil. You could add some of the other herbs available in the forest garden at this time of year, such as parsley, celery leaf, land cress, salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor), various onions, wasabi leaf, alexanders, hedge garlic or sorrel. Indeed, you could add anchovies, olives, coriander or a deep-fried Mars Bar, but I think that the plain version can’t be beaten.
Don’t expect green hummus to taste like the chickpea paste, but do expect it to have a wonderful flavour all of its own. A fertile Spring to all of you.

Broad beans

crimson-flowered broad bean

I like to have a few patches of legumes scattered through the perennial crops in the forest garden, as they have bacteria-filled nodules on their roots that fix nitrogen direct from the atmosphere, so they feed the system at the same time as producing a crop. I’ve got peas (Pisum sativum) and the perennial pea Lathyrus latifolius planted with the raspberries – both as experiments – this year and a few native vetches scattered around. Broad beans (Vicia faba) are so productive and reliable that you really can’t go wrong with them. One very useful discovery this year is that the leaves as well as the beans are edible and nice.