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Broad Bean Bake

Broad beans were eaten by the Egyptians and Romans, and have been cultivated in Britain for hundreds of years. They-were often served at feasts in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Although savory is not one of the most widely used herbs in cooking, it is worth seeking it out especially for this recipe, as it was traditionally used to flavour beans.

ingredients

serves 2
700 g (1 1/2 lb) fresh broad beans or 225 g (8 oz) frozen
broad beans
2 medium carrots, cut into chunks
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
25 g (1 oz) butter
25 g (1 oz) plain wholemeal flour
300 ml (1/2 pint) fresh milk
30 ml (2 tbsp) chopped fresh mixed herbs, such as
savory, chives, parsley, thyme
5 ml (1 tsp) prepared English mild mustard
salt and pepper
30 ml (2 tbsp) porridge oats
50 g (2 oz) Double Gloucester cheese, grated
25 g (1 oz) chopped mixed nuts

method

1. Shell the fresh broad beans, if using, then cook in boiling salted water for 5 minutes.

2. Add the carrots and parsnips to the beans and continue to cook for 10 - 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. If using frozen beans, add for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Drain well.

3. Put the butter, flour and milk in a small saucepan. Heat, whisking continuously, until the sauce thickens, boils and is smooth. Simmer the sauce for 1 - 2 minutes.

4. Stir in the herbs, mustard and the vegetables, and season to taste. Simmer for 2 - 3 minutes, until heated through, then divide between two individual flameproof dishes.

5. Mix the oats, cheese and nuts together and sprinkle on top of the vegetable mixture. Brown for 2-3 minutes under a hot grill/broiler.

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