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Broad Bean, Dill and Saffron Pilaff

The Vegetable Bible by Sophie GrigsonSophie Grigson has been championing vegetables throughout her food writing career (one of her early successes was Eat Your Greens). In this dish from The Vegetable Bible (HarperCollins, stg£15), shades of fresh spring green, yellow and white ‘look like Easter’. To get it at its best Pascal prettiness you do have to take a little time over preparing the broad beans, but Sophie assures us that they'll taste all the better for it. Early broad beans are ready in May-June, but you can make this at any time with frozen beans - like peas, they freeze exceptionally well. Serve as a light main dish, or as a side dish (in which case you don't really need the yoghurt).

Serves 4-6

500g/llb 2oz broad beans in their pods, or 350 g (12 oz) shelled broad beans          
a big pinch of saffron threads                    
400g /14oz basmati or long-grain rice
45g/11/2oz butter                              
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
750ml/1/4 pints vegetable or chicken stock
3 tablespoons chopped dill
salt and pepper
To serve: thick Greek-style yoghurt.

1. Pod the broad beans if fresh. Drop the beans into a pan of boiling water and simmer for 1 minute. Drain and slit open each bean to squeeze out brilliant green beanlet inside. Discard the skins. (If you are using frozen
broad beans, just thaw them out, then skin as for fresh beans.)

2. Soak the saffron in a tablespoon of very hot water. Rinse the rice if using basmati and leave to drain until needed.

3. Melt the butter in a saucepan and fry the onion and garlic gently in it.
Now add the rice and stir to coat each grain in buttery juices. Add the stock, dill, salt and pepper, bring up to the boil, then stir m the broad beans.
Cover tightly and reduce the heat to a teensy thread.
Cook for exactly 10 minutes without lifting the lid.

Draw off the heat, remove the lid and stir - the liquid should by now have been completely absorbed. Stir in the saffron water, then taste and adjust seasonings. Serve straightaway with the yoghurt.

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