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Broad Beans with Fennel (Fava e Funcho)

A fresh and elegant combination of young broad beans and wild fennel, this is a popular summer dish throughout Portugal. In winter, it can be made with beans from store and flavoured with dried fennel stalks. In summer, the usual flavouring is young fennel fronds, though bulb fennel will do as long as it has plenty of green and you dice the roots small before adding them to the pot. Good as a midmorning snack, or serve as a light supper with quartered lettuce hearts and grilled sardines (the season lasts from May to October)


Serves 4


500g shelled, skinned broad beans
2 fennel bulbs, including the fronds
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 thick slice streaky bacon, diced
1 large bunch spring onions, trimmed and chopped
To finish
4 thin slices cornbread (broa), toasted

Prepare the vegetables first.  Shell the beans and skin them they’re a little on the leathery side. Trim the fennel bulbs, reserving the frondy ends, and slice vertically.  
     Heat the olive oil in a shallow heatproof casserole, and stir over the heat for a few minutes, then add the vegetables. Season, bring to the boil, turn down the heat, cover loosely and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes, adding a few drops of water as needed. Bubble up to thicken the sauce, then stir in the chopped fennel fronds or dill. Spoon over slices of grilled wood-oven bread, or hand the bread separately, as a mop.


Recipe from The Food of Spain and Portugal. 

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