One must be a bit careful when cooking with regular mature garlic. A little goes a long way, and can overwhelm many a culinary creation.
Not so with green garlic, also called young garlic. The green shoots of immature garlic bulbs that have been picked early are called green garlic. Farmers traditionally picked green garlic to thin out their crop, often bringing baskets of the early greens to farmers markets to sell as a secondary crop.
But, as Amy Scattergood reports in her L.A. Times, more and more chefs and home cooks have become enamored with green garlic, turning the accidental crop into a purposeful one. Today many farmers plant extra rows of it for early harvest. It’s become a popular seller at farmers markets when spring finally arrives.
A bunch of green garlic looks much like scallions and is delicate in flavorâ€”like mature garlic, but less so. A more subtle, mellow flavor. Green garlic can be used whole. The long green stalks, roots and pale, tender bulbs can all be eaten. Just be sure to wash thoroughly. Use it as you would scallions, chopping or mincing to use in soups, salads and stir-fries. When cooked, green garlic becomes sweeter and slightly nutty.
Scattergood talked to several chefs in the Los Angeles area who use the early spring greens in soups and fresh salsas, or sautÃ©ed and paired with seafood or pasta.
For recipes and ideas for cooking with green garlic, you may wish to check out this New York Times article on the subject written by Daniel Patterson.
But like many good things, fresh green garlic doesn’t stay around too long. It’s harvested in early spring, and usually gone by summer. So if you start seeing it at your local farmers market this spring, you might want to check it out. I know I’ll be keeping an eye out for it.
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