Baby Broad Bean & Pecorino Salad

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Appears in

Food of the Sun: A Fresh Look at Mediterranean Cooking

Food of the Sun

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1995

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In Italy this salad is eaten in May, when the beans are barely formed in the pod. They are served raw, tossed only in extra-virgin olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. The Pecorino is cubed from a young cheese and mixed in. ‘Faites simple’, as somebody once remarked. You can get baby broad beans here now, though you need to talk to a greengrocer about this. Once they have formed a thick skin, they first need to be briefly parboiled and peeled. The result will not be as splendid, but will still be very good. Frozen beans do not work.

While mild Pecorino is the authentic and preferred choice for this dish, a Swiss Gruyère is also appropriate. Gruyère in France is a generic description for similar cheeses with holes and these include Comté, Beaufort and Emmental, which all make acceptable alternatives. Small cubes of Cheddar, if not too mature and strong-tasting, also combine well.


  • 2 kg/ lb young broad beans in the pod
  • 225 g/8 oz Pecorino cheese
  • tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper



Pod the beans and cut the cheese into 1 cm/½ in dice. Put the beans into a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the oil and toss until every bean has a thin coating. Add more oil if it is too dry, but do not swamp the dish with too much. Scatter over the cheese and serve at once.

If the beans are older and have a skin, parboil in lots of boiling salted water for 1-2 minutes, refresh briefly in cold water and peel before proceeding as above.

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