Broad Beans with Tarragon

This is a traditional dish in Kent where broad beans are sown before Christmas and are sometimes ready for the table in April. The beans must be very young and freshly picked and the tarragon shoots young and tender. It is the first spring vegetable dish and is much looked forward to by those with sheltered gardens. It is no good with frozen beans. Serve in individual dishes as a starting course with brown bread and butter, or with grilled gammon as a main course.


  • lb (¾ kg) young broad beans, shelled
  • ¾ stick (90 g) butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • cups (3 dl) double cream
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
  • Salt and pepper


Melt the butter in a heavy pan. Add the beans, cover closely and cook gently for about 15 minutes, stirring from time to time.

In a bowl, beat the egg yolks into the cream. Stir in the lemon juice a little at a time and finally mix in the tarragon and the seasoning.

Remove the pan from the heat and allow the beans to stand for 30 seconds. Pour the sauce over the beans and stir gently, holding the pan just above the heat. It must on no account boil. Serve immediately.