Broad Bean Salad with Pancetta and Sherry Vinegar

The fresh broad bean season seems to be so short, I always feel the need to feast as much as possible when I can, hence this salad. It's good as a first course or to serve alongside other salads in a cold buffet.

Remember, when buying broad beans in the shell you'll need 1 lb (450 g) in weight to get 4 oz (110 g) once shelled.

Serves 4 generously

This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book Two

Broad Bean Salad with Pancetta and Sherry Vinegar
 4 lb (1.8 kg) young broad beans, shelled
 4 oz (110 g) sliced smoked pancetta or smoked streaky bacon
 1 tablespoon chopped mixed fresh herbs (parsley, chives, basil and thyme, for example)
 2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the dressing:
 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
 1 large clove garlic, peeled
 2 level teaspoons Maldon sea salt
 2 level teaspoons mustard powder
 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
 freshly milled black pepper


Begin this by pre-heating the grill to its highest setting for 10 minutes or so, then place the pancetta (or bacon) on a piece of foil and grill it 3 inches (7.5 cm) from the heat for about 4 minutes; it's important to get it really crisp.

Then, as soon as it's cool enough to handle, crumble it into tiny pieces.

Now place the shelled beans in a medium saucepan, add a level teaspoon of salt and pour in enough boiling water to barely cover them. When they come back to the boil, put a lid on, turn the heat down and simmer them gently for about 5 minutes. It's very important not to overcook them, so a timer would be useful here.

While they're cooking, make the dressing by first crushing the garlic and salt with a pestle and mortar until it becomes a creamy paste, then work in the mustard powder and follow this with the vinegar and a generous amount of coarsely milled black pepper.

Next add the oil and give everything a good whisk.

When the beans are cooked, drain them in a colander, then place them in a serving bowl, toss them in the dressing and give it all a good stir.

Now sprinkle in the pancetta, herbs and chopped shallots, taste to check the seasoning, give everything one more good mix, then cover the bowl with a cloth and leave aside for a couple of hours so the beans can absorb all the flavours.

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