Normally Spring is reserved for the first strawberries and peas of the season. Rhubarb also makes its' debut around now too. Yet, there's another bloom sprouting and blossoming too right now, It's garlic- coming back in all its' aromatic glory.
Melissa Clark wrote about it in her A Good Appetite column in yesterday's New York Times Food section. The shoots are available from April until June and look like scallions with floppy, leafy tops and slender , white stalks. Every part of the garlic plant is edible, including any bulbs growing from the root ends.Those eventually form the familiar garlic heads comprised of cloves , a staple in both home and professional kitchens.The bulbs are tender, juicy and sweet.They also have an herbal tang that the older cloves just don't have. Ms. Clark recommends using them in recipes that call for scallions. Try them in salads, compound butters or pesto like sauces. They can be treated like the mature version and puree them into aioli or pesto.They can even be subbed in scallion pancakes,giving the dish a fresher, "greener' flavor. New garlic, like any allium, has health benefits, namely in promoting heart health and lowering high blood pressure.Most garlic sprouts can be had at markets such as Whole Foods however they can be grown at home. Fill a jar with dirt and place one garlic clove in it.he jar should be placed in a sunny window and the dirt should be watered daily. Shoots should appear within two weeks and can be harvested right away.
As for recipes, Ms Clark suggests making that Middle Eastern staple tabbouleh. She treats the green stems like herbs. She minces it in the parsley and mint which are the spine of the salad.Play with the ratios.If the new garlic is too strong then add more of the other two to temper it,The main idea is having a salad that's more green than beige with bulgar. Cucumbers and tomatoes are also added, rounding out the freshness.There is also cumin,allspice and lemon juice added too for color and tartness. home chefs could add tomato paste for a more authentic flavor along with subbing in cayenne pepper for the cumin and allspice. Tabbouleh can be served with grilled or roasted meats or fish (it would work well with kebobs this Memorial Day)along with the traditional falafel. It could be served with just a simple chunk of feta cheese and toasted pita bread for a light lunch or supper. The greens can also be chopped up scallion style and added to a simple cucumber salad.with a lemon or lime vinaigrette.
This is the time to take advantage of new garlic greens. They add to a bright tangy herbal flavor to any dish. Try them in tabbouleh for a new spin on a traditional dish.