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Alys Fowler's broad bean falafels

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Alys Fowler Alys Fowler | 07:00 UK time, Sunday, 31 July 2011

I went to the big smoke last week. Summer suits it - the burnt umber grasses of Hyde Park, overflowing window boxes, people thronging to every and any green patch and picnicking for lunch. It was hard not to be charmed. I ambled about enjoying the sun and found the most beautiful vintage skirt in a charity shop. It has a great swing and huge pockets, pockets perfect for collecting eggs and stuffing with greens.

I learnt about apron greens in Paula Wolfert’s wonderful 'Mediterranean Grains and Greens' (a treasure trove for the home grower, out of print now, but worth hunting for online). These are wild greens collected by Greek woman where you have one pocket for bitter herbs (dandelions, chicory, sorrel, thistles) and one for bland (nettles, cleavers, Good King Henry).

By splitting up these greens in your apron pockets you can always keep the right ratio (roughly one part bitter to three parts bland) for cooking. When I ran my fingers along the rail and felt the heavy weight of vintage fabric and spied those great pockets I knew exactly what I’d be doing in this skirt. I like fashion that speaks to you in such ways.

The last two weeks I’ve broken the protective bubble that is home and peered at the outside world. I’ve been to Guernsey and seen the most wonderful Victorian walled garden that is being restored by a group of volunteers one of which is Raymond Evison, of clematis fame. It is a brilliant project and well worth a visit. I also took a cold, but crystal clear dip in the sea and ate a crab.

I’ve also visited Paget School in Burton on Trent that has produced a wonderful, ambitious school orchard with over 500 trees (one for each pupil). It was truly unexpected, volunteers, kids, adults a like were all so proud of this space. It looks impressive now, but imagine it in 20 years time. Now that’s something I’d like to see all schools doing.

The garden has suffered little from my absence as it is quite happy looking after itself at the moment, but the kitchen looks a different sight. I returned to broad beans desperate to be shelled, garlic that needs plaiting, onions that need pickling and bountiful salads.

The broad beans have been so plentiful and so late this year that I am still working through buckets of them. I decided to make a lot of falafels to freeze for quick snacks later on in the year. I‘ve adapted this recipe a bit from the one on the Edible garden.

Ingredients (makes roughly 32 small falafels)

broad beans

  • 500g of broad beans
  • I teaspoon of baking powder
  • A clove of garlic (more if you like that but remember it will for all intent and purpose be raw)
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 small dried chilli
  • A small handful of flat leaved parsley (stems and all)
  • A small handful of dill
  • A small handful of mint
  • 1 tablespoon of coriander seed (I used fresh seed from the garden) or a small handful of fresh coriander leaf
  • 2-3 teaspoons of cumin
  • A tablespoon of sesame seed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Preparation method

  • Blanch the broad beans for 3 minutes if rather large and a bit tough.
  • If you don’t have enough broad beans then half broad beans and half chickpeas.
  • Mash all the ingredients together adding a glug of olive oil as you go.
  • You want a sausage-meat like consistency.
  • Add salt and lemon juice last and taste as you go - a little more of this, a little more of that as you desire.
  • Once you’ve got the right consistency and mixture rub olive oil in your hands and roll into small balls, a 5cm or so. You need the olive oil or else you just end up with broad beans smeared all over you.
  • Fry in oil is a wok or deep frying pan until golden brown.
  • Serve with minted yoghurt (just mint and yoghurt).
  • Alys Fowler is a writer and broadcaster. Read more of Alys's Gardening blog posts.

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