In the Pacific Northwest the sun is starting to show (along with the rain, wind, hail, and possibly, snow?!) The days are longer and the markets are starting to bustle with new life and new produce. Parsnips, potatoes, and fall’s apple crop are still taking over a bulk of the produce stands but each week there is something new to delight in. Soon the bare shelves will be replaced with abundance. This season is marked with the bright citron green of new growth, the tender pink petals of cherry blossoms falling in the wind like snow, sofy leafy herbs, snappy green peas, slender asparagus, tart rhubarb, and so much more. After a long season of decay spring wakes us up to the reminder that new life is never far behind.
From the Field is a series that aims to take a deeper dive at the foods that are currently in season from the farms. The ingredients to look for at the farmer’s markets or grocery stores. Depending on where you live my reports may be a thing of the past or a glimpse into your future but no matter if I’m too late or too early I hope you still stay to read and perhaps get to know a new-to-you ingredient. Or get to know an old stand by in a new way.
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The early spring markets are often accompanied with rain and less crowds. Hope lingers there too as the weather starts to warm and we know that any week now we’ll be met with something other than beets, onions, kale, and parsnips. Forgive me for sounding ungrateful, but I’m ready for something new. That’s when I spot the tender green and white stalks of green garlic. I immediately snag two bunches with no thoughts of what to do with them but eagerness and excitement prevail.
These particular bunches of green garlic were grown by Sequim Garlic. Jana grows several varieties of garlic and produces a pungent garlic powder that my spice drawer will now never be without. She also sells garlic to grow in your own garden and for the last couple of weeks she has brought green garlic to the market.
Green garlic are the early spring shoots that emerge on their way to growing into a full bulb; essentially young or immature garlic. It’s a delicious byproduct of the garlic farming process as farmers will thin the crop making way for the bulbs to grow and get the necessary nutrients. They are similar to a scallion (or green onion) in appearance but often more dense and larger. Think somewhere between a scallion and a leek.
The flavor is a mild version of its adult self. It’s distinctly garlic without the raw burn and heat of the full grown bulb. Similar to the muted onion flavor of a scallion. When thinking of how to incorporate green garlic into a recipe I think of it like I would a scallion. For example, in place of scallions in a scallion pancake I used green garlic and dandelion greens. The flavor was softly garlic scented and earthy. They are great simply sliced (I used all the parts of the stalk if the dark green parts are still tender) and sautéed along with other vegetables. I’d stay away from caramelizing them to the extent we do with full grown garlic so as not to lose the flavor. Remember, it’s much more mild and is well suited for the tender flavors of spring.
Green garlic would be lovely in a spring herb pesto served over grilled asparagus or blackened quickly then blended with sour cream and a touch of mayonnaise for a dip for fresh or sautéed snap peas. Or make whipped butter with finely minced green garlic, fresh mint or dill then serve alongside crisp radishes and plenty of baguette or sourdough. Use that same butter to cap poached or grilled halibut or roast chicken. Green garlic is also a fitting match for eggs.
The season is short and while green garlic isn’t readily available all over you most likely will find them at your farmers market or specialty grocery stores.
Currently from the field;
Young lettuce varieties
Next up we’re going to take a look at what’s in season in the forest. Get to know some of the abundance that’s popping up in the wild.