Bright-green baby broad beans are a great luxury, not because of the cost, but the huge time investment required to peel them. Here, I’ve put them with other spring-like vegetables: asparagus, pea shoots and tender raw peas that make me feel as if I’m eating a bowlful of goodness.
Usually, asparagus – regarded as a bit of a nightmare when it comes to wine drinking because of the way it changes the taste of the wine in your mouth – would dictate the bottle choice. It’s good matched against the scything edge of a grassy sauvignon blanc. But, but, but. The generous helping of soft, creamy ricotta is a game-changer here; it bridles and almost curdles when you put it with sauvignon blanc, and is similarly stung by a sharp riesling, another grape I like to drink with asparagus. The solution is to pick your riesling or sauvignon blanc carefully, choosing one that’s sleek rather than brash – or to go with another grape.
Fresher styles of chardonnay can work well, balancing ricotta’s need for breadth with a gentle citrus note. Italian whites are, as so often with Italian food, also good: think vermentino, lugana, verdicchio. A peppery- grapefruity grüner veltliner from Austria also tastes good with this creamy-astringent combination. And heading further east into Hungary, if you can find a dry white wine made from furmint – the grape better known for its part in sticky-sweet Tokaji – then that will go very well.
One more word: the quantities here are for one person: lunch or perhaps add a light second course for an easy supper. If you’re cooking for friends, stick a glass of wine in front of them and get them to peel the broad beans. I have broad bean peeling races and weigh the results to see who was fastest.
4 GREAT MATCHES:
Montgravet Chardonnay 2014 France, 12% (Waitrose, £5.99)
It doesn’t have the purity of the Blind Spot (below), but this slightly peachy, lemony chardonnay is a good wine for the price.
Finest Marlborough Riesling 2014 New Zealand, 11.5% (Tesco, £8.99)
A particularly refreshing, smooth and easy-drinking riesling; fine, clear and tinged with lime.
Taste the Difference Grüner Veltliner 2013 Austria, 12.5% (Sainsbury’s, £7.50)
Austria’s signature white grape is fresh, and reminiscent of white pepper and citrus.
Blind Spot Yarra Chardonnay 2014 Australia, 12.5% (The Wine Society, £8.50)
This has enough creaminess to meet the ricotta, and a lemon and apple twang. Easily the winner.
Broad bean, pea shoot, asparagus & ricotta bowl recipe
frozen broad beans 120g
asparagus tips 6
pea shoots 2 handfuls
fresh garden peas 50g
ricotta 2 tbsp
grated lemon zest 1⁄2 tsp
extra virgin olive oil
sourdough bread 2 slices, toasted to serve
Put the beans into a heat-proof jug or bowl, and cover with plenty of boiling water to blanch. Leave for a minute, then drain and remove from pods.
Trim the hard base of the asparagus stalks, then cook them on a hot griddle pan, turning occasionally, until slightly charred but still crunchy.
Arrange the pea shoots, raw peas, broad beans and asparagus in a bowl with a couple of spoonfuls of ricotta on the side. Mix the lemon zest with 1 tbsp olive oil and drizzle over the top. Serve with the sourdough toast, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt to taste.
PER SERVING: 345 KCALS|FAT 17G|SATURATES 14.6G CARBS 20.1G|FIBRE 16.5G|PROTEIN 19.6G|SALT 0.1G
This feature was published in May 2015
Photographs: Ant Duncan
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