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.
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.
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)
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!