Saturday, May 23, 2009

Green Garlic: a culimary treat

Green garlic is the young shoot of garlic before it matures into the familiar bulb. It can be found at farmers' markets between March and May. Here in southern New Hampshire, in mid-May, my garlic bed is ready to be thinned out.

When I planted garlic last fall, I planted them closer than the recommended 4" apart, ensuring a surplus of the "weeded" out baby shoots, the green garlic that is much sought after by restaurant chefs.

The flavor of green garlic is definitely garlicky without the pungency of mature garlic. If you sometimes avoid garlic because of its strong lingering taste, green garlic will surprise you with its delicate sweet taste and mild manner. I use it as a substitute for regular garlic or, cut up into 1/2" pieces, in place of scallions in stir fries. I've used it in Beef with Asparagus and sprinkled over Homemade Naan right after it comes out of the oven. What you get is a mild unobtrusive taste of garlic.

Although the whole plant can be eaten, I use only the white and light green parts. The darker green leaves are a bit tough and strong and would be good to add to soups and stews but I haven't tried that yet, so stay tuned for more about garlic this summer.

Green garlic or baby garlic straight from the garden

Pasta with Shrimp, Spinach and Green Garlic

This is my go to pasta with greens, olive oil and garlic. Note that these amounts are approximate, I don't really measure anything when I make this, and I make it almost weekly with endless variations depending on what vegetables are on hand. Last week was the first picking of baby spinach and green garlic and so they came together in this super easy pasta

1/2 lb thin spaghetti, or pasta of your choice
1/2 lb peeled and deveined raw shrimp
4 TBS olive oil
4 - 6 cups baby spinach or any other vegetables
3 to 4 green garlic, minced, white and light green parts only
Salt and Pepper to taste
Hot pepper flakes to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Cook spaghetti in a large pot of generously salted boiling water for 4 to 5 minutes until al dente. Reserve one cup or so of cooking liquid and drain. In the same pot the pasta was cooked in, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add green garlic and a pinch of pepper flakes, cook 30 seconds. Add the shrimp, salt and pepper and cook until shrimp is pink but not completely cooked, about 2 minutes. Remove from pan onto a plate. Add two tablespoons oil to the same pan and add pasta and a little cooking liquid if too dry. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook until heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Return shrimp to pan and add spinach. Continue cooking and stirring until spinach is slightly wilted and bright green, about 2 minutes, adding pasta cooking liquid as needed. Remove from heat and serve, topped with grated Parmesan. Serves 4.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Grabbing the garlic before it gets a chance to mature. I'm always learning something from you. Sounds delicious. You may convince us to plant a garden after all! ag...