I'm feeling a little depressed about my vegetable garden at present. It seems the more effort i put in to improving the soil and planting things at the correct time, the less success i have. This year all my climbing and dwarf beans got eaten by slugs as they germinated, and my broad beans, another crop i previously thought of as fail-safe, have been severely attacked by aphids. I've been spraying with organic Neem-tree oil, as well as squashing as many as possible, but as i am away for work for days at a time, quite a bit of damage is sometimes done before i get onto it. The husband has kindly built me a cold-frame, and i'm trying again with the climbing and dwarf beans, germinating them in pots. I'll try and get them to a reasonable size before transplanting to the garden. I've also got courgettes and pumpkins, along with basil growing happily in the cold frame; i planted some of the basil out in the glasshouse amongst the tomatoes yesterday, but will watch closely for slug attack before planting any more out. When i have enough space i will get more seedlings going for planting out; so far the only things germinating well and being left alone by insects and birds seem to be the parsnips. With luck i'll have a good crop of parsnips come winter. Also looking healthy are my leeks. I bought a whole lot of tiny leek seedlings from Mitre 10 a couple of weeks back and planted them out, and they, too seem to be happy in their new home. Last year i planted leeks a bit late, and they never got much thicker than my thumb, so this time i decided to plant a whole heap of them, so even if they remain small i will have plenty. Being in the allium family they seem fairly safe from insect attack... fingers crossed!
However despite my gardening woes i did harvest my first broad beans a few days ago, along with a few peas. Not quite enough to make a meal, but i supplemented with some frozen broad beans and peas to make one of my favourite broad bean meals. This is yet another of those mysterious recipes copied from a magazine in a cafe somewhere. If only i had known back then that i would be sharing them in a blog i would have made more effort to write down who it was by and what magazine it was from. I've been making it for several years now. Orecchiette are small thumb-dimpled rounds of pasta; you can, of course, use any pasta you like, but i prefer something that will catch and cup individual peas or beans. Sea shell pasta works equally well.
PEA and BEAN ORECCHIETTE
400g orechiette or other short pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
6 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup single or pouring cream
1 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
1&1/2 cups broad beans
1 cup peas
1 lemon, juice and zest
sea salt and cracked black pepper
shaved Parmesan and cracked black pepper to serve
Cook pasta 14-15 min until al dente. Meanwhile heat fry pan until HOT. Add oil, garlic and anchovies and cook 2-3 minutes. Add wine and cook another 2-3 minutes or until reduced by half. Add cream, lemon juice, zest, salt and pepper and cook 3 to 4 minutes or until cream is slightly thickened. Add drained pasta, beans, peas and mint. Stir until well combined. Serve in bowls topped with Parmesan and cracked black pepper.