What to do with Green Garlic

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Neither a statement nor a question, cause I haven’t arrived at either yet. Green garlic is an ingredient I didn’t, to my knowledge, encounter until I moved to the Bay Area. Even after 10 years though, it sill leaves me at a loss.

I remember the first time I had green garlic. It was green garlic gnocchi – ricotta dumplings—at Rivoli (a dinner and a restaurant that I stumbled upon almost at random, and loved, but, oddly, have never gone back to). I thought green garlic was heaven. Fantabulous.

And so I’ve tried to cook it since. I’ve tried to make green garlic sformatini, the seemingly closest recipe I could fin. An inspid cheesey mess. I’ve tried in soufflés, and frittatas. I’ve considered soups.

And it’s been boring. un-sensational, nicely fresh and springy, but lacking the zing of leeks or scallions or the punch or garlic. Sort of like the washed out cousin of those better lilies.

What works best for me is to use green garlic as a supporting ingredient, not the main star. So, risotto with mushrooms made the usual way, but with green garlic and shallots where I might use garlic, shallots and half an onion.

I thought I was going to try a different sformatini recipe with this week's batch, but last night, home alone and with a baby to look after at the same time, I defaulted to pasta. Fusilli with green garlic sautéed in the fat rendered from the slow cooked rind of an order of pancetta, tossed with a handful of defrosted frozen peas, some butter and a bit of pecorino (the sort of dish I love, for at least three reasons: 1. It uses up random tiny leftovers in the fridge 2. It builds upon one of my ur-recipes for pasta sauce: a little fat, a little protein, some green cooked to death, a little cheese 3. It virtually cooks itself, while I feed the babe.

That’ll have to do until I make it back to Rivoli.

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