How to Make the Most of Green Garlic Season + Pasta w/ Green Garlic Recipe

Fresh spinach pasta with green garlic, slowly cooked in butter

Green garlic–the immature stalk of garlic before the cloves start to form–has all the fragrance and charm of garlic without some of the bite/heat that develops with maturity. Green garlic is one of the first signs of spring in farmers’ markets in the Pacific Northwest. It looks like a skinny leek or green onion and you can use the tender part of the green stalk as well as the white/pink portion.

(I used some on air this week while talking about spring greens and herbs! It’s a fun episode!)

You can use lots of green garlic, both raw and cooked–especially cooked slowly in butter like for this pasta dish–for a sweet, fragrant, and savory addition to many dishes (eggs, beans, grains, meats, potatoes, other alliums, etc.). As the stalks get a little thicker and tiny cloves start to form you can peel off the outer layer or two but still use some of the stalk as well.

 

I use it, liberally, anywhere garlic is called for. It’s delicious in soups and salad dressings and added to dips and particularly homemade mayonnaise–a green garlic aioli, really!  Unlike mature garlic, green garlic needs to be refrigerated and used within a week.

 

Happy Spring!

 

P.S. I’ve just recorded this video on pantry stocking and my concept of the “living” pantry aka herbs you can easily grow in a pot by your front door!

 

P.P.S. If you want access to 22 more recipes for green garlic (!) or maybe more importantly, quick ideas for most any vegetable or herb to keep you eating well and feeling good every day subscribe with discount code eatwell for $3.99/month or $45/year. I promise that the ideas and tips and recipes will save you many times that amount by cooking-with-what-you-have rather than making lots of last minute trips to the store.

 

Pasta with Green Garlic

 

If you have access to fresh pasta, buy or make some! I used fresh spinach pasta from a local market but also enjoy this with regular, dried pasta.

 

Serves 4-6 (or 3 if you love pasta as much as my family does)

 

5 stalks green garlic, trim the top 1/3 – 1/2 of the stalk and peel away the outermost layer and mince the rest

2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil but butter is particularly good here)

Salt

1 lb tagliatelle or spaghetti

3/4 cup grated Parmesan

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Heat the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and a pinch or two of salt and cook, turning down to medium-low or even low, stirring often until softened and fragrant, about 7-8 minutes. You don’t want the garlic to brown or burn.

 

Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously (1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt) and cook the pasta until al dente. Right before you drain the pasta, scoop out 1/2 cup of the starchy, salty cooking water–this will help make the sauce.  Drain the pasta and return it to the pot along with the garlic, plenty of black pepper, the cheese and a little of the reserved cooking water. Mix well and adjust with a little more water if things are dry. The garlic and cheese might clump a little but it will be delicious! Serve right away, maybe with a green salad!

 

 

Make Your Own Rules! Aka You’re the Boss & Cooking is More Fun that Way

I just returned from a 4-day camping trip/music festival. First day back was busy and hot. No time for a trip to the store and there was a hungry family to feed & we spent too much money on food at the festival:

 

What did I have on hand?

1 giant zucchini that I should have picked before I left. 1 slightly shriveled peach, 1 quart of cooked rice in the freezer as well as a loaf of bread, a head of lettuce that still had a decently fresh core, plenty of herbs in the garden, red lentils in the pantry, plus 1 onion and a few cloves of garlic, a bit of butter, spices and a can of coconut milk. And a handful of roasted, salted cashews.

 

The Menu:

Zucchini & Herb “Butter” + Toasted Bread

Red Lentil Dhal & Rice w/ Plenty of Mint

Green Salad w/ Peaches, Mint & Cashews

 

The Verdict:

Delicious + enough for lunch the next day + cooking without spending an (extra) dime makes me very happy

 

My “Rules” (for this meal):

  • Don’t hesitate to serve an Indian-inspired dish next to a French-inspired one next to an undefinable salad
  • Rich nuts like cashews can stand in for cheese in salad
  • Nuts are critical pantry staples
  • Grating the zucchini and squeezing out some of the liquid before sauteeing it makes it cook more quickly and have a better consistency
  • A zucchini that looks too big to be good can be delicious sauteed with plenty of butter & herbs
  • Grating vegetables is easy and often leads to creative uses
  • Growing a few herbs pays off big time
  • Fruit is wonderful in green salads
  • Butter & salt make everything better

What are you cooking on the fly these days?

 

Happy summer!

 

P.S. Need more regular tips and inspiration to eat well and spend less? Use discount code SUMMER for 20% of a subscription to the Seasonal Recipe Collection. 

 

Summer Squash Herb “Butter”

–inspired by Food52.com

 

Whenever you have a lot of squash this is the prefect thing to do. Grated, it cooks down quickly, turning into a sweet and savory side dish or spread. Spread it on toast in place of actual butter or add a thick layer in a sandwich with  tomatoes and/or soft cheese. You can use it as a pizza topping or a pasta sauce too.

 

Serves 4 as a side, 2 as more of main with an egg or a hearty salad, etc.

 

About 4-5 medium zucchini or any kind of summer squash (feel free to use less or add extra — cooking times will vary)

1/4 cup olive oil or butter (I prefer butter in this one)

½ a medium onion, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, mint, basil or parsley

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Squeeze of lemon juice or drizzle of vinegar

 

Coarsely grate the squash on the large holes of a box grater. Squash is really the easiest thing to grate so it won’t take much time at all. If you feel like it you can sprinkle the pile of grated squash with a little salt and let it sit while you sauté the onions. Even in just a couple of minutes it will release a bit of liquid. Before adding the grated squash to the pan you can then squeeze handfuls of the squash over a sink to release some extra liquid which will speed up the cooking a bit. But don’t worry if you don’t–it will be just fine.

 

In a deep skillet, heat the olive oil/butter. Sauté the onion for about 3 minutes on medium heat. Add the squash and a few generous pinches of salt and toss and cook and stir over medium to medium-high heat until the squash is nice and soft and almost spreadable, about 15 minutes. If you scorch the bottom, turn the burner down a bit but don’t worry about the browned areas. They will add flavor and be sure to scrape them up and reincorporate. Just before the end of the cooking time add the herbs and incorporate well. Cook another minute or two, taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and a little lemon juice—you don’t need much but just a little brightens it up nicely.

 

 

Stuffed and Roasted Pumpkin

This is the most delicious, beautiful fall dish. It’s perfect for a regular old dinner (though it does take almost 2 hours to bake so maybe a weekend dinner) or a Thanksgiving treat. But it’s so easy and so adaptable that you should add it to your regular repertoire. It’s wonderful with cooked rice instead of bread, additions of cooked spinach or chard, cooked sausage . . .

Serves 6

 

Pumpkin Stuffed and Roasted
–adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Around my French Table

 

1 pie pumpkin, about 4 – 5 lbs (just adjust the amount of filling if your pumpkin is smaller or larger – though you don’t want to go too much larger as it takes awfully long to cook)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 lb (or slightly more) stale bread, sliced and cut into ½-inch chunks
1/3 lb cheese, such as sharp cheddar, Gruyère, Emmenthal or a combination, cut into ½ chunks or grated
2-4 garlic cloves (to taste), finely chopped
2-4 slices bacon, diced and cooked until just crisp
¼ cup chives or sliced scallions (green onions), thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
½ cup of cream or half and  half
½ cup milk
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

 

Preheat oven to 350F.

 

You can using a baking sheet, a pie pan (as seen above), or a dutch oven with a diameter that’s just a tiny bit larger than your pumpkin. If you bake the pumpkin in a casserole, it will keep its shape, but might stick to the casserole, so you’ll have to serve it from the pot which is fine too.

 

Using a sturdy knife, cut a cap out of the top of the pumpkin. Cut a big enough cap that it’s easy to hollow out the inside. Scrape out the seeds and strings from the cap and the inside of the pumpkin. Rub the inside of the pumpkin generously with salt and pepper and put it on the baking sheet, pie pan or in a pot.

 

In a large bowl toss the bread, cheese, garlic, bacon, and herbs together. Season with pepper and salt and pack the filling into the cavity. The pumpkin should be well filled—you might have a little too much filling, or you might  need to add to it. Stir the cream, milk and nutmeg with a bit of salt and pepper and pour it into the filled pumpkin. You want the liquid to come about half-way up the cavity. It’s hard to go wrong though. Better a little wetter than too dry.

 

Put the cap in place and bake the pumpkin for about 2 hours—check after 90 minutes—or until everything inside the pumpkin is bubbling and the flesh of the pumpkin is easily pierced with the tip of a knife. Remove the cap for the last 20  minutes or so of baking to brown the top and let any extra liquid evaporate. Transfer carefully to a serving platter if you baked it on a sheet. Serve, scooping out plenty of pumpkin with each serving or serve it in slices.