Young, immature garlic is a spring treat. Green garlic resembles a leek—the stalks are tender, the flavor is delicate and sweet, and the plants have not yet begun to form a bulb. Over a period of 6 or 8 weeks, the young plants will mature, forming tiny cloves at the base of the stalk, and adding layers of skin over the bulbs as the plant grows additional leaves at the top of the stalk.
Young garlic has a very aromatic, mild flavor. It blends beautifully with other vegetables and makes excellent purées, soups, sauces, and fillings for pasta. It is especially good in broths, poaching liquids, and stews, and if roasting a bird, put a few stalks in the cavity to flavor the flesh. Or, simply sauté the stalks in olive oil as a side dish.
Like a leek, all of the white base of the plant can be used, as well as the tender, lighter-green stalk. The leaves are usually too tough to eat comfortably, but they can be used to flavor any dish. Just make sure and remove them before serving.
1 stalk of green garlic is equivalent in potency to 3 cloves of bulb garlic.
Penne with Ricotta and Green Garlic Sauce
1-1/2 cups fresh Whole-Milk Ricotta, or a 15-ounce container whole-milk ricotta
1/4 cup finely minced Green Garlic
2 tablespoons minced Parsley
Salt and freshly ground Pepper to taste
1 pound Dried Penne or Fusilli Pasta
2 tbsp Butter
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, plus grated Parmesan for the table
1. Combine the ricotta, green garlic and 1 tablespoon of the parsley in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Just before pasta is done, remove 1/2 cup of the boiling water. Whisk enough of the hot water into the ricotta to make a smooth, creamy sauce.
3. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce along with the butter. Toss well. Add 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and toss again, adding a little more of the hot water if needed to thin the sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning.
4. Serve on warm plates, topping each portion with some of the remaining parsley. Pass additional Parmesan at the table.
Green Garlic Risotto
3/4 lb. Green Garlic, washed and roots trimmed
6 cups Vegetable Stock
2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 Shallot, minced
3 oz. Aged Asiago, grated
1-1/4 cups Risotto
Freshly Ground Pepper
2 tbsp snipped Chives
1. Cut the tender part of the green garlic—the white and pale green part—into thin rounds and set aside. Coarsely chop the remaining garlic stems and place them in a large pot with the stock. Bring to a boil, turn off heat, cover, and let steep for about 30 min.
2. When you’re ready to start the risotto, remove the lid and turn the heat to medium-low. It should stay warm but not boiling. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and sliced green garlic and saute until soft and fragrant, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute 2 minutes more. Season with about 3/4 tsp. salt, add the rice, and stir with a wooden spoon until each grain begins to turn milky white, about 3 minutes.
3. Add the stock to the rice 1/2 cup at a time, stirring after each addition until the liquid is nearly absorbed. Continue to add stock and stir until the rice is tender, about 18 minutes. Just before the final addition of stock, stir in the cheese, taste, and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the last of the liquid and ladle the risotto into warm soup plates. Sprinkle with the chives or parsley.
Green Garlic Soup
1 pound Green Garlic
1/2 pound Potatoes2 Medium Onions8 tbsp. Unsalted Butter or Olive Oil2 quarts Chicken or Vegetable Stock
1. To clean and prepare the garlic, trim away the root end and peel away any tough or dirty outer leves. Cut away the tough upper portion of the green leaf; unless very tough, the lower couple of inches of greens are fine to use.
2. Cut the clean garlic into thin rounds or half-circles. Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Peel and chop the onions into small dice.
3. Melt the butter (or olive oil) in a heavy-bottomed pot, add the onion, and cook slowly until translucent and tender. Salt, and add the agarlic and potatoes. Cook these together for 5 minutes, then pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook the soup until the potatoes are tender. Check the seasoning. This soup can be served rustic and chunky, or puréed. Either way is delicious.