Trapped inside by inclement weather and my own laziness (OK it was hardly even raining, but I did feel very lazy), I turned to the freezer and cupboards for inspiration one dark November night.
Pasta and pesto? Again? Lovely in Italy, but frankly a bit boring in dark old Peterborough when it’s packet pasta and pesto from a jar. Luckily, homegrown veg came to the rescue. Faced with a glut of broad beans in June, I prudently blanched and froze some of them. A handful added to the pasta water 2 minutes before the end of the cooking time brought back a whiff of summer to that sodden November night.
But what really lifted it was garlic. Half a clove of crushed, raw, homegrown garlic mixed into the pesto and swirled through the hot strands of spaghetti and glowing green broad beans. Pepper and plenty of parmesan. Heaven.
Now’s an ideal time to plant garlic. Break the bulbs apart, and plant the individual cloves deep enough so they’re just covered by soil, about 6in (15cm) apart and wait. They can sometimes take months to show, but trust me, they will be busy putting out roots. Eventually, little green shoots will push up through the cold soil (last year I planted mine in November and they didn’t show through until late January).
Garlic is easy. Just give it a sunny, fertile soil and keep the weeds down in the spring and early summer. You’ll soon be picking your own healthy, tasty crops and wondering how you ever got by without growing it!