Green green the garlic grows
“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. It all started this morning when we trundled off to the garlic patch. You see, we have this GIANT garlic patch that is a long story that I will tell you about someday.
Suffice to say we have over 1000 garlic plants of 22 varieties growing in a fertile field. And when one has a garlic patch of this size, it is important at this time of the year to weed, fertilize, pet, mumble blessings over, and snap off the scapes.
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. They are amazing chopped up in stir fries, steamed, roasted or in anything you would add garlic to. (Imagine green onions that taste like garlic.) 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!
While we were snapping away on the scapes, we also pulled a few immature garlic, which is called “green garlic.” 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 pesto is one of the dishes that really shines and is very popular in the farm to table restaurants.
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 old to vampires at bay.
The only bad thing about all this it is hard to find garlic scapes and green garlic, unless you have a farmer’s market or a garlic patch close by. Fortunately for us, both Mother Nature’s and Manzanita Deli will be carrying garlic scapes, (when available) and green garlic for your culinary pleasure. When our farmer’s market opens on June 18th, there should be more available there as well. Do yourselves a favor and experiment with the other scrumptious parts of the garlic plant that usually go unheralded. But don’t tarry the season is fleeting.
Tonight I made both garlic scape pesto and double green garlic soup. So, now you see why I reek of garlic? Yup, everything is beginning to look up. Maybe the sun will come out now.
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 the cat.
Spring Double Green Garlic Soup
You can use substitute all green garlic in this soup if you can’t find scapes.
3 tablespoons of butter
3 fat stocks of green garlic, chopped into 2 inch pieces
2 cups of garlic scapes chopped into 2 inch pieces
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 fat free 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 the scapes 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.