Thrifty Recipe of the Week: Broad Bean Pesto

Miss Thrifty2 June 5, 2016

broad bean pesto

It isn’t really pesto in the true Italian sense, but ‘Broad Bean Paste’ doesn’t do this delicious stuff justice. And there are so many things you can do with a jar of broad bean pesto in all its garlicky, lemony loveliness: stir it into pasta as a sauce, spread it on toast or serve on the side with grilled fish or vegetables.

The jar pictured above cost less than £1 to make. You can make it from frozen broad beans – the supermarkets sell 650g bags for around £1, in the freezer aisle – but I always snap up the fresh beans at this time of year. They often seem to end up in the discount section with yellow woopsie stickers: I think that in 2016, the pods put people off. I don’t know why: it doesn’t take long to do and I find it so relaxing, running my thumb along the seam of each pillowy pod to split it along its length and find the beans inside. Also, the fresh pods keep in the fridge for weeks. This time, I picked up a kilo of broad bean pods in Tesco for 60p.

fresh broad beans

My version of this recipe is adapted from a BBC Good Food recipe. The original includes anchovies, but I think it’s fine without them.

Broad Bean Pesto


Prep time: 

Cook time: 

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Serves: 1 jar

Simple, quick and delicious. Fresh broad beans are always delightful, but frozen work too and are available all year round. Warning: you may not wish to share this dish!
  • 300g - 500g broad beans, frozen or freshly podded
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ lemon
  • 25g Parmesan or hard cheese
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  1. Add the broad beans to a pan of boiling water and boil for 3-4 minutes. When you drain them, flash the colander under the cold tap to stop the beans cooking in their skins.
  2. Remove the skins from the broad beans. This is the longest step of the recipe, but only takes a few minutes: the cooked beans pop out. Add the beans to a bowl.
  3. Heat the oil in the pan and crush or chop the garlic into it. Only fry the garlic for about 30 seconds. Add the oil and garlic to the bowl.
  4. Zest the lemon (or grate the skin). Juice the lemon and add the zest and juice to the bowl.
  5. Add the salt and pepper. Grate the cheese into the bowl. Mash.
  6. Transfer to a clean jar. Store in the fridge, where it will keep for 3 days.

If you saw my last post about making good use of ice cube trays, you might like to note that a cube of frozen (well, defrosted) creme fraiche works well in this recipe. That’s one thing I like about broad bean pesto: not only is quick to make, but you can alter the ingredients to suit. The quantity of beans can vary depending on what you have available. I add a whole lemon rather than half a lemon, but that’s personal preference.

By the way, the jar in the picture lasted less than 24 hours. They may be mashed beans, but they are pretty moreish…

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2 Responses to “Thrifty Recipe of the Week: Broad Bean Pesto

This sounds delicious! I’ll definitely be giving that a try this weekend!

June 20, 2016 at 11:10 am

Ellie says:

I really enjoyed this – even though I totally forgot to add the cheese! Doh! Added a bit of extra lemon and oil and a little salt and used it as a pasta sauce. Can see it would be super tasty with the cheese in it, but in a pinch (or with a vegan) I’ll do without it again.

July 21, 2016 at 7:56 am

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