According to tradition, Sicily once experienced a failure of all crops except for broad beans that kept everyone from starving. Broad beans subsequently became a popular tradition in many Italian communities and to this day people carry a broad bean for good luck believing they will never be without the essentials of life.
To celebrate spring some Italian families go on a picnic and traditionally eat fresh broad beans with fresh Pecorino cheese and local salami. In some Italian regions, a popular soup of broad beans is made with garlic, onions or leeks and beet leaves stir-fried, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and bits of bacon or prosciutto as an option.
In Portugal and Spain a Christmas cake is baked with a dried broad bean inside. Whoever has the slice containing it, is supposed to buy next year’s cake.
In France the dried broad bean (these day it can be a small trinket) is placed in the Christmas cake and the person who finds it in their slice becomes the king or queen of the meal, and is often expected to serve the other guests a drink.
Good for your health!
Broad beans are full of protein and provide lots of healthy nutrients.
They are a good food source of vitamin B1, iron, copper, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium.
- Cook them together with peas and artichokes to have with fish or meat.
- Make a delicious soup.
- Enjoy them young and fresh in salads or as a dip with fresh young peas.