Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Green Garlic To Go

Oh happy day when the green garlic is ready to eat, a rite of spring for us garlic lovers. Not usually featured in grocery stores, green garlic first appears at farmers markets in March, heralding good culinary things to come.

Green Garlic looks like a green onion or a skinny leek. Cleaned, finely chopped, and sautéed gently in butter or olive oil, its sweet garlicky flavor subtly remains in the background, making other flavors better, unlike the pungency of mature cloves which can take over a dish. It pares well with all things spring: lamb, peas, new potatoes, asparagus and kale.

This enchanting taste of spring is planted in the fall. Prime time is full moon in October. To keep up with the growing demand from chefs and foodies, growers will plant 2 cloves together, one to be harvested early as green garlic, making room for the other to mature into a bulb to be harvested in midsummer.

These wet days create perfect conditions for thinning the doubles. They pull out easily by hand. I harvest a bunch at a time, send some off to chef, remove the roots, outer skin and tough green tops of the others, chop them exceedingly fine, then sauté to translucence in a combination of olive oil and butter. I tuck this concoction away in the fridge. It keeps well for about 2 weeks. Then, as the cooking muse guides, I take it out. Now that’s my kind of Take Out.

You can easily make your own green garlic to go and use it for scrambled eggs, green garlic soup, garlic bread, grilled cheese, green garlic pesto on pasta, sauces, dips or salad dressings. For you urban farmers or newbie gardener wannabes, there’s a good chance you may have green garlic growing already. Those neglected old cloves bumbling around in your larder are genetically formatted to sprout this time of year. Split up the bulbs and poke the cloves (green side up... duh,) 2-3 inches down into a pot of rich soil. Place the pot in a sunny area of your deck or rooftop. Within weeks you’ll be enjoying your own crop and humming the praises of Green Grows the Garlic Oh.