Recipe: Broad Bean and Butter Bean Spread

It is easy to develop an aversion to Broad Beans. Prolific bearers and easy to grow, they are an easy choice for home gardeners and country kitchen gardens. Yet the poor bean is often misunderstood. Instead of being treated tenderly, cooks mistakenly overcooked them to a green-grey mush with a strong taste only masked by other strong tasting ingredients. Unaware that each individual bean has its own skin that needs to be peeled, they were being boiled until that outer skin reached a level of tenderness – and that mean that the inner bean was overcooked.


Yes, the secret to broad beans is that they need to be double peeled. First the fury pod is removed, and then, after blanching, the skin of each bean can be easily slipped off. Young beans are preferable to their older counterparts as their flavour is gentler.

What a difference a peel makes! You might like to read more about broad beans.

Feel free to browse other recipes from our Retro Recipes series. You might like to browse our Broad Bean recipes here and here. We have some delightful Spring recipes here and here, and great recipes for Dips here and here. We recommend  Spicy Moroccan Carrot Dip, Thick Yoghurt Tahina Dip, or a Quicky Hummus.


Broad Beans

Broad and Butter Bean Spread

I first made this in 1998. I said it was yummy then –  it is yummy now. The horseradish gives it a bit of a kick. You could use chilli instead. Also, I think that some tahini mixed in with this would go well, giving it a measure of creaminess.

Source : from my original, ancient Food_Matters site
Cuisine: maybe Italian?
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 1 min
Serves: 4 – 8 people, depending how you use it

300 grams of cooked cannelloni beans (butter beans) – a can of butter beans is Ok to use
100 g shelled broad beans (use young beans – if the shelled beans are white in colour, they are too old)
0.5 medium onion
sea salt and black pepper, freshly ground
4 Tblspn good extra virgin olive oil
1 – 2 heaped tspn horseradish, to suit your taste
juice and rind of 1 lime or 0.5 lemon
splash verjuice, optional
2 Tblspn chopped parsley
1 clove garlic

First, briefly blanch the shelled beans in boiling water – between 10 seconds and 30 seconds will be more than enough. Drain them immediately and then peel away the thick outer skin to reveal the tender green beans. It is fiddly but worth the effort.

Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor, seasoning well. You can process a little, and leave the mash nice and chunky, or you can process until smooth and creamy. If it becomes too thick while processing, add a little more oil or warm water.

Blending to a smooth puree gives a green colour from the parsley and beans. Mashing or blending coarsely gives a cream colour with green flecks.

Broad Bean and Butter Bean Puree with Horseradish

Ways to Use the Puree

  • Serve on toast, bruschetta, or crusty bread. And with some good cheddar cheese and olives. Or spread toast with ricotta and top with the mash.
  • Or use some crackers and serve as a dip.
  • Char-grill some eggplant slices, and serve, layered with the spread and accompanied by a green salad.
  • Accompany a plate of roast vegetables with the spread.
  • Drop a Tblspn in the centre of a bowl of creamy soup.


This is cross posted with our sister site, A Life Time of Cooking. It appears here as part of the Retro Recipes series.