Broad bean, asparagus and courgette salad

Broad bean, asparagus and courgette salad

Insalata di fave, asparagi e zucchini

Helen Cathcart

Apparently Pythagoras hated broad beans so much that rather than escape through a bean field, he opted to be captured and killed by his enemies in 500 BC in the village Metapontum in Basilicata aged around 75 years old. If he had eaten this salad it may all have been different. The idea for this recipe comes from Francesco at the La Cantina; he loves to add different flavours to a dish around the edge of the plate. White asparagus originated from Bassano, south of Venice. A terrible storm is said to have damaged the asparagus crop so a local farmer dug up the white and tender new shoots that hadn’t yet emerged from the ground. He sold these and they have been popular ever since. In Bassano, asparagus is eaten with hard-boiled eggs. I like to put the ingredients separately on the plate so you can try the different combinations.


Quantity Ingredient
2 courgettes, finely sliced into ribbons
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 hen’s eggs
or 6 quail’s eggs
200g broad beans, fresh or frozen
2 tablespoons mint leaves, shredded
1 tablespoon lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
300g white or green asparagus
30g parmesan shavings
30g flaked almonds, toasted
6 dessertspoons Parmesan and ricotta pesto for crostini, pesto only


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lay the courgette ribbons on to baking parchment on a baking tray and brush with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Season and roast for 5 minutes, remove from the tray and set aside.
  2. Cook the eggs in boiling water until just hard-boiled, around 8–10 minutes for the hen’s eggs and 4–6 minutes for quail’s eggs. Drain the eggs and run under cold water. Tap them to break the shells; this will stop the blue ring appearing around the yolks. Leave in very cold water to cool. Boil the broad beans in salted water until tender, between 3–6 minutes depending on how mature they are. Remove from the heat, drain the beans and plunge them into a bowl of cold water. Pop them out of their wrinkly shells and add them to the courgettes with the mint leaves, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Toss gently. Season to taste.
  3. Bend the asparagus stems so that the woody ends snap off; discard. Steam or boil the tips for 3–6 minutes until tender, then plunge into a bowl of cold water to stop them cooking. Drain and set aside. To assemble, put the courgette and broad bean salad on one side, the asparagus dressed with the Parmesan shavings and almonds on another, and a pile of the eggs separately. Season the asparagus and eggs with salt and drizzle over a little oil. Add a spoonful of the Parmesan pesto on to each plate, drizzle with the remaining oil and a sprinkling of pepper.
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