Grab Them Before They go - Green Garlic

(In this series we feature a seasonal produce or fruit our family is enjoying thoroughly these days. Infact it's so good that we think it deserves you opening another tab of your browser right now and finding out your nearest farmer's market to visit! 

We at G&G believe in simple & quick recipes with local and seasonal produce and fruits; not only you will be enjoying fresh bounties of the nature without the preservatives and 100s of food miles, you will also be helping the local farmer's ecosystem and sustainable growing)

Have you ever cooked with green garlic before? It looks just like a slightly bigger scallion or green onion. Sniff at it and you will identify the distinct young garlic smell. It looks so much like a spring onion that unless youare looking for it, you may have seen it in your local farmer's market but walked right past it thinking it's a green onion (I know I have early on)!

I have rarely seen green garlic in supermarkets or grocery stores but they are in local farmer's markets in California (and likely elsewhere) around this time. Just like fresh snow peas, green garlic are young immature garlic picked right when they are young. You can eat the bulb and the leaves all.

Afterall spring is the season of new beginnings, a young start, life sprouting everywhere after months of cold harsh winter and that feeling is reverberated everywhere in the spring vegetables as well.

Green garlic will give a delicate slightly sweet garlicky flavor to your spring dishes. It gives a very unique and distinct flavor not replicated by adding garlic cloves - you really have to try it to believe!

Prepping green garlic is same as spring onions or green onions. You wash them, pat dry. Trim off the ends and slice the whites and greens very thin. Then you can add whites wherever you want slightly more garlicky woodish flavor and keep the greens for more vibrant garlicky fresh flavor.

Green garlic can be cooked so many ways; practically any recipe where you would use garlic clove, you can use green garlic - my rule of thumb is one green garlic for two cloves to impart similar garlicky flavor.

Some of my favorite ways to use green garlic are:

1) Green garlic daal - daal is a traditional Indian lentil preparation made at our home almost once every week. You can use any lentils in your pantry. My favorite way to prepare daal with lots of garlic and lots of tomatoes. 

In green garlic season, I like to make a green garlic moong daal. Saute 4-5 strands of green garlic (whites and greens) in few Tbsp hot oil tempered with mustard seeds and asafoetida powder. Then add turmeric powder, moong daal, water and salt and cook covered until daal is cooked through - about 40mins or so. Add more or less water for desired consistency. I like this version on the dry side but you can make watery as well. To serve, garnish with splash of good quality olive oil and crushed chili flakes - eat with roti or a good bread.

2) Springtime pasta - green garlic goes great in pasta dishes. One of our favorite is pasta primvera. Saute green garlic and pinch of crushed red chili flakes in olive oil. Add spring vegetables such as asparagus, celery, snow peas, early tomatoes, early zucchini and saute. Add pasta of your choice and handful of parmesan cheese. Season with salt & pepper.

3) as a pizza topping - you may think unusual at first - but give it a go, some green garlic, asparagus, and figs so yummy!

4) Add to any soups. Add white part while cooking and sprinkle green part after cooking for some fresh garlic taste.

Next time you wander in local markets, keep an eye out for these delicious greens near the green onion piles. Add to pasta, soup, pizza or daal - wherever you use garlic cloves, try substituting with green garlic for a distinct mild garlicky taste which only a spring shoot can provide! They are available only for a few weeks in spring, so definitely grab them before they go!