Broad bean Hummus – Hamiltonhill Style


Broad bean hummus. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

Well that’s the last of the 2014 broad beans from the freezer. The ones we’ve planted this season at the plot at Hamiltonhill are just poking their noses through now. As always, we’ve sown the beans that were given to us by Manolo, a retired muleteer from Galaroza, Sierra de Huelva, Spain. In the the Sierra the beans are planted at the back end and ready for harvesting in March or April. With this last batch I’ve made some hummus.



Cooked broad beans with the outer skin removed

Olive oil

Garlic (red skinned preferably)


Malden salt


Blend together with a mortar and pestle or in an electric blender.

This year's broad beans hardening of at Plot 16. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

Manolo’s broad beans growing at our plot in North Glasgow. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©


Manolo’s crop of broad beans growing at his “huerta” in Galaroza. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©



Serrano broad beans and extremeño garlic thriving on Plot 16, Glasgow.

Three years ago a friend from Galaroza in the Sierra de Huelva, Southern Spain, gave me a big bag of broad beans that he’d dried and saved from the previous growing season. Manolo has a lovely plot just on the outskirts of town where he grows his veg, keeps chickens and stores his harness, because before he retired, Manolo worked as a muleteer or arriero. He still looks after his ancient mule, Curro, once one of a pair, in a neighbouring paddock. Manolo also cultivates his son-in-law’s plot on the other side on the town, on the path that leads to Valdelarco. I am the happy beneficiary of dried herbs; oregano, wild echinacea, spearmint and tila (dried lime flowers that are good for calming the nerves). During the growing season I often ride home with gifts of vegetables (tomatoes don’t travel well on horseback!) and Chaparro, my horse, has become accustomed to bags and watermelons dangling from the pommel of the vaquera saddle.


Manolo’s broad beans at his huerta in Galaroza, Sierra de Aracena. Photo: Jan Nimmo©


Manolo and his mule, Curro. Drawing: Jan Nimmo ©

Back home in Glasgow, on my allotment at Hamiltonhill, I often remember, with envy, the fecund kitchen gardens of the Sierra de Huelva. On our plot we struggle with an inclement climate, poor soil, occasional vandalism, biblical plagues of slugs and snails and have to make a sojourn to south Ayrshire where our friends keep three black Clydesdales, to gather up bags of horse manure to try to improve our soil and to import worms to what used to be a completely worm free zone. Whilst we may not have the sun, fertile earth and on-hand horsey “Brown Gold”, we love our plot because not only does it sustain us around the year with seasonal vegetables and fruit, it is also our all year “No Straight Lines” haven, a green space which makes tenement dwelling bearable and which eases the stresses of long hours spent working at a computer, or al least indoors away from sunlight or cloud.

Plot 16, Hamiltonhill, Urban Haven. Photo:  Jan Nimmo©

Plot 16, Hamiltonhill Allotment, Glasgow, Urban Haven. Photo: Jan Nimmo©

This year's broad beans hardening off at Plot 16. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

This year’s broad beans hardening off at Plot 16. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

Broad beans form Plot 16, Hamiltonhill Allotment, Glasgow. Photo: Jan Nimmo

Broad beans form Plot 16, Hamiltonhill Allotment, Glasgow. Photo: Jan Nimmo

One of our joys has been to successfully grow good healthy crops of broad beans from the beans that Manolo gave me. (This is our third year growing them). We intercrop them with Marigolds and enjoy preparing dishes with them: cooked with jamón serrano and a quails’ eggs or just tossing them into stir fries. My Auntie Carmen from Jaén told me that her aunts used to prepare whole habas or broad beans, pod and all, for her when she was young. We’ve tried this too but they have to be young and tender to prepare them this way.


Allotment tourists: Uncle Archie and Auntie Carmen, Plot 16, Hamiltonhill Allotments, Glasgow. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

This summer, when our beans are ready to harvest, I am planning to try out a typical recipe from the Sierra de Huelva:

Habas enzapatadas. (Broad beans in slippers).

  • 1 kilos of large broad beans
  • Spearmint
  • Mint (optional)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Lemon


Peel the broad beans, the bigger the better, and wash them.

Put the water in a large pot and when it’s almost boiling add salt.

When the water is boiling add slices of lemon, the mint and peeled garlic and let that simmer for a minute.

Lower the heat and leave for a minute then add the broad beans for 15 – 20 minutes but ensure that they don’t get overcooked.

This is a recipe from the Sierra but there is a variation from Moguer and Palos de la Frontera, on the coast, which substitutes the mint with coriander so I think I may give that that a go too. In Huelva you’d wash this down with a cold Cruzcampo but we’ll be in Scotland so it might have to be a Williams Brothers Grozet.

The broad beans aren’t the only crop of Spanish origin that does fine on Plot 16. Every year in January I buy garlic at the Wednesday market in Galaroza. There is a man who comes down from Badajoz Province every fortnight and has a stall with plants, trees, seeds and flowers. The garlic he sells is the excellent ajo castaño; the head is covered with white skin, flecked with purple and inside the cloves are covered with shiny purple skin. It is strong and flavourful. Once you have tried this no garlic will do. Our garlic doesn’t thrive quite so well as it does in the huertas of Galaroza but the favour is the same. So with exception of lemons I think we can get all the ingredients to make this when summer comes.

Spanish Garlic/Ajo Castaño, Hamiltonhill Allotment, Glasgow. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

Spanish Garlic/Ajo Castaño, Hamiltonhill Allotment, Glasgow. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

Jan Nimmo 15th April 2015 ©

Beetroot a la Virtu/ Remolacha a la Virtu.

Allotment produce and dirty clogs at Plot 16. Photo: © Jan Nimmo

Allotment produce and dirty clogs at Plot 16. Photo: © Jan Nimmo

At Plot 16 Paul and I try and grow as much of a variety of crops as we can squeeze in and every year some things do better than others but you can never predict what will do well and what will fail. Inspired by watching my friend Iluminado (who looks after Chaparro) in Galaroza, Huelva, watering his crops in his huerta (we’ll never match up to his veggie growing prowess but we can strive to), I was determined to make sure that everything was properly watered this year, so for once we have had half decent beetroots. Other years they have been wizened wee woody things that frankly have gone back into the compost.

My childhood beetroot invariably came picked in vinegar, either shop bought or pickled at home. Having lived in Glasgow for years now, Paul and myself, like anyone in else in the Dear Green City enjoy a curry so one of our favourite things to make with beetroot is a simple Madhur Jaffrey curry.


Iluminado Tristancho (Picadero de La Suerte) watering “cantero” style in his large kitchen garden in Galaroza, Sierra de Huelva. Photo: © Jan Nimmo


Iluminado Tristancho (Picadero de La Suerte) showing off the marvellous tomatoes from his large kitchen garden in Galaroza, Sierra de Huelva. Photo: © Jan Nimmo

Visiting Galaroza regularly for the last ten years I’ve picked up many culinary ideas from my friend, Virtudes, Iluminado’s wife. There’s rarely a day when I return from a ride with Chaparro that I don’t have something to eat with Virtudes and the family, at the stable; Sunday chips cooked on the wood fire and made from home grown red potatoes, with free range eggs and whole cloves of garlic; on a cold day it will be migas. In the evening maybe a snack of grilled sardines and salads and aliños of seasonal veg or simply a tapa of homemade goat’s cheese, home cured ham and olives from the hill above the horses’ corrals. Virtudes is a fantastic cook and is both great at a making local Serrano dishes as well as being open to trying out new dishes and new ingredients. She is very clued up about the properties of the ingredients of her dishes and is extremely health conscious. Garlic is essential to a lot of what she prepares, along with all the other crops that Iluminado grows in his big kitchen garden at the stables; tomatoes, aubergines, onions, potatoes, peppers, courgettes, artichokes, beetroot, carrots, lettuce, parlsey, coriander, chard… and then there are the fruit trees….


Virtudes, Iluminado’s wife, is a brilliant serrano cook. Photo: © Jan Nimmo

Virtudes makes a very simple but delicious dish with beetroot, which we now make here in Glasgow too – we call it “Beetroot a La Virtu”.


Slow cooking beetroot. Photo: © Jan Nimmo

Beetroot cooked with its stalks and skin on then peeled, sliced or chopped in to chunks  when cooked.

Ingredients for "Remolacha al la Virtu". Photo: © Jan Nimmo

Ingredients for “Remolacha al la Virtu”. Photo: © Jan Nimmo


A good glug of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Finely chopped garlic to taste (best is “Ajo Castaño” – which is a variety favoured in Spain – small heads and purple skinned cloves with a very strong flavour. I buy garlic over there in January and plant it on our allotment).

A generous splash of cider vinegar

A good pinch of sea salt or Malden salt.

Beetroot and lots of garlic. Photo: © Jan Nimmo

Beetroot and lots of garlic. Photo: © Jan Nimmo

Mix it all together, cover and leave it the fridge for at least a few hours. Serve as a side dish to accompany salads, tortilla and fish dishes – or just on it’s own. It will keep for a couple of days but it doesn’t last that long in our house; scrumptious and very healthy.


Remolacha/Beetoot al la Virtu. Photo: © Jan Nimmo

© Jan Nimmo 2014

Grozet Wine Time at Plot 16

Our Grozet wine © Jan Nimmo

Our Grozet wine © Jan Nimmo

When we took on Plot 16 there was very little growing amongst the tall weeds there except a sage hedge and two apple trees.

Our neighbouring plotter at that time was Angela from Papua New Guinea.

One day we spotted Angela digging up her gooseberry bush and then wheeling it up in a barrow towards the skip.

“Are you throwing that bush out, Angela?”

“Yes, the fruits are sour and I don’t know what to do with them, so I’m getting rid of it”

“But you can make jams and puddings, Angela!”

“No, it’s ok I’m going to dump it…”

“Do you mind if we have then?”

” Ok then”.

So we took the bush, dug a home for it in the third bed from the front of the plot and watered it in. We didn’t really hold out much hope for its survival. But the following year the bush yielded 15 lbs of fruit. We made a lot of jam that year and were still eating it for considerably longer.

Paul harvesting gooseberries at Plot 16 © Jan Nimmo

Paul harvesting gooseberries at Plot 16 © Jan Nimmo

One Sunday afternoon, Sarah, a biologist, who had a plot up the other side of the site, came down with a bottle of homemade gooseberry wine for Paul. She had heard that he had made the decision to set up his own architectural practice and the wine was to say congratulations and good luck. We forgot about the wine for a bit but when we tried it were amazed at how delicious it was! That was enough for us to ask Sarah if she would be up for teaching how to make it.

Sarah, our wine guru © Jan Nimmo

Sarah, our wine guru © Jan Nimmo

That summer we made both gooseberry and raspberry wine under the tutelage of Sarah, who was to become our “Country Wine Guru”. We made rose hip wine (some rose hips from the allotment site and some from Huelva in Spain which I had dried). It looked awful but which cleared and kept us in cooking wine for a year.

Gooseberry wine and Morena © Jan Nimmo

Gooseberry wine and Morena © Jan Nimmo

For two years in a row our gooseberry bush was affected by sawflies while we were away in Spain – the grubs stripped all leaves. Paul did a severe pruning and so last year we harvested less than a 1 lb of gooseberries. I read on the internet that sawflies don’t like foxgloves so every time I found a foxglove that had self seeded on the plot I would plant it near the gooseberry bush and that, along with the pruning, seemed to do the trick and the bush is in rude health.

Nena investigating the goosegogs © Jan Nimmo

Nena investigating the goosegogs © Jan Nimmo

Happily, this year we’ve harvested about 17 kilos, are in the process of making 2 gallons of grozet wine with our hairy grapes and there are still enough in the freezer to make some jam and some puddings!

Apparently Angela’s gooseberry bush like our windy, hilltop site.

Preparing the "hairy grapes for wine" © Jan Nimmo

Preparing the “hairy grapes for wine” © Jan Nimmo

© Jan Nimmo 2015





Plot 16

Poppies at Plot 16

Paul, my other half, and I have been plotting at Hamiltonhill Allotment for almost 5 years now. Set in the north of Glasgow, the site presents us with a number of challenges:

Poor soil – it was once a glass factory and was closed for 4 years by the Council so the site became overrun by weeds.

Climate  – at the top of a hill, the site can be windy and frost and snow can last a little longer than other parts of Glasgow.

Vandalism – there are usually a few incursions onto the site each year when sheds get broken into, tools get stolen or strewn round the site and vegetables get lobbed at greenhouses…

In spite of all those issues we have set about transforming a neglected, derelict, overgrown plot into a place we love. We’ve had to learn everything as we go along and are in a constant stare of reappraising what we do and what does and doesn’t work.

Plot 16 - the very beginning

Plot 16 – the very beginning

Plot 16

Plot 16

Paul at the plot

Paul at the plot

Jan at the Plot

Jan at the Plot