by Dana Zia, Golightly Gourmet
“Until recently, green garlic never appeared in the market and was largely unrecognized by cooks.” –Alice Waters
Things are beginning to look up; I reek like garlic and it is 77 degrees. Sunny warm and my kitchen smells like garlic. Things couldn’t be better.
Walking around my yard earlier this week, I noticed this unseasonable warm weather has made my garlic patch grow like crazy! I grabbed the shovel and began to dig up green garlic, which is the immature garlic before it bulbs. This stuff is a treasure and the season is fleeting!
Green garlic has the sleek seductive look of a spring onion and has a springy, mellow garlic flavor. It is all the rage in the gourmet world. Any dish will simply sing with green garlic chopped up and added to it. Green garlic is amazing chopped up in stir fries, steamed, roasted and my favorite, grilled. They are actually good in anything you would add garlic to but have a much milder flavor so it’s hard to overuse. (Imagine green onions that taste like garlic.)
Later on this spring the garlic will start to send up blossoms called “scapes” in the garlic world. (Don’t ask me why, I simply do not know) The scape is the stem and flower of the garlic. They are tender and delicious if you pluck them off when they first begin to shoot up. It is also extremely important to remove the scape if you want the garlic to put all its energy into the blub, opposed to the flower. Which, we most definitely do!
Green garlic and garlic scapes can be used interchangeably with each other and they have all the same stellar nutritional benefits of mature garlic cloves. Garlic has been known to keep everything from the common cold to vampires at bay. Green garlic also is a good source of Calcium, Phosphorous, and Selenium, and a very good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and Manganese.
The only bad thing about all this is that it is hard to find garlic scapes and green garlic, unless you have a garlic patch close by. But I have found that Mother Nature’s and North Fork 53 farm store are carrying green garlic right now. Yeah! Do yourselves a favor and experiment with the other scrumptious parts of the garlic plant that usually go unheralded. But don’t tarry as the season flies by and soon we have good old garlic blubs instead of the tender green garlic.
A scrumptious way to use green garlic is to make pesto with it. You can use the pesto on anything you would normally use basil pesto on and woo hoo! It’s a ride! Tonight I made both garlic scape pesto and spring green garlic soup. So, now you see why I reek of garlic? Yup, everything is beginning to look up and spring has finally sprung.
Green Garlic Pesto
Great on pasta and anywhere else you would use pesto.
2 cups of green garlic or garlic scapes, chopped into 2-inch pieces
1/4 cup hazelnuts chopped fine or pine nuts
1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup warm water
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Drop the green garlic through the food chute with food processor on; process until minced. Place next 4 ingredients (nuts through pepper) in processor; process till everything is well mixed and fragrant. Combine water and oil in a measuring cup. (oil and water do mix sometimes!) With the food processor on, slowly pour oil mixture through food chute, processing just until blended. Taste and adjust seasonings. Put on everything you can think of, except maybe chocolate.
Spring Green Garlic Soup
3 tablespoons of butter
6 fat stocks of green garlic, minced
1 – 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme
1 -2 teaspoons of fresh parsley
1 quart of chicken or vegetable stock
3 – 4 plump new boiling potatoes
1 cup of sour cream
1 tablespoon of cornstarch
2 teaspoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice
Fresh grated nutmeg to garnish
½ – 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, to taste
About 5 cranks of fresh cracked pepper to taste
Heat up your favorite soup pot and melt the butter in it over medium high heat. Add the green garlic and sauté until translucent and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Put in the herbs and sauté for a few more minutes. Next add the broth and the potatoes and reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 20 minutes till everything is nice and tender.
Carefully take half the soup and blend till kind of chunky smooth, if you know what I mean. (An immersion blender is great right about here, but that is one kitchen gadget I don’t have.) Mix the blended portion back into the soup. Stir the cornstarch into the cup of sour cream till smooth and add to the simmering soup. Mix in really well and simmer for a few minutes till everything begins to get thick and creamy. Season with the lemon juice, salt and pepper and cook about 5 minutes longer while stirring here and there. Sprinkle with fresh thyme and grate some fresh nutmeg on each bowl of soup and serve up hot.