The thing is, as much as I love fresh organic produce, I don’t garden.
Never mind that I hasten the demise of any plant that comes my way. We also live on a lovely corner lot that is full of huge old trees – perfect for cooling our 1930’s house on hot summer days, but not so perfect for growing any kind of vegetable of herb.
Lucky for me, gardening is almost a competitive sport here in the Pacific Northwest, so most of our friends have prolific gardens, and – again, lucky for me – they like to share.
So one of my friends has a bumper crop of green garlic this spring and when we had dinner together last week, she pressed a shopping bag full of these long, lean gems into my arms. What to do with so much abundance? This picture shows less than half of the garlic my friend gave me. I had never actually cooked with green garlic before, but you know what they say – when life gives you lemons. . . .
Over the course of a week, I found lots of ways to use these babies. In case you don’t know, green garlic looks much like a leek, but the leafy green part is more tender and infinitely edible. The flavor is a very gentle garlic one. Even my 12 year old son – who got to carry the bag as we walked home from dinner – thought it smelled delicious. So much so that he even deigned to eat some of the dishes I prepared.
First I did a Pappardelle Pasta with Green Garlic and Goat Cheese. Then, since I believe there is almost no vegetable that doesn’t do well with roasting in a hot oven, I roasted some of the bulbs and stalks and served them alongside my usual Sunday night Roast Chicken.
Later in the week I chopped, then sauteed the greens and put them on top of thin crust pizza on the grill, along with more goat cheese, some oven-dried tomatoes and crushed red pepper flakes. For the following Sunday’s Roast Chicken, I made a green garlic compound butter and rubbed it under the skin of the bird before popping it in the oven. And with the very last of the pile, I made a delicious rainy day soup of Green Garlic, Roasted Asparagus and White Beans – based on a recipe of Mark Bittman’s from his Food Matters Cookbook. I adapted it to include the garlic and I think it was my favorite of all the green garlic themed dishes I made. My kids loved it too!
It occurred to me later, that what I really ought to do though, is to figure out a way to preserve this green garlic abundance. Maybe we should pickle it? Wouldn’t pickled green garlic would be fantastic in a Bloody Mary? Okay, now I’ve got to call my friend to get some more!
Roasted Asparagus, Green Garlic and White Bean Soup for a Rainy Spring Night
adapted from Mark Bittman, serves 4
4 T olive oil, plus more for garnish
2 whole leeks, trimmed, well rinsed and thinly sliced
6 – 8 stalks green garlic, white and light green parts chopped
2 T minced garlic
1 T chopped fresh rosemary
Salt & Black Pepper
1/2 cups dry white wine
4 cups cooked or canned white beans, drained, liquid reserved if you cooked them yourself
6 cups vegetable of chicken stock (or a combo of stock and the bean cooking liquid to equal 6 cups
About 1 1/2 pounds asparagus
Parmesan Cheese to grate on the top
Heat the oven to 450°. Put 2 T of the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. When it’s hot, add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened a bit. Then add the green garlic and continue to cook and stir until the vegetables are beginning to color. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for another minute. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, add the white wine, and stir to loosen the bits of vegetables from the bottom of the pan.
Add about half of the beans and the stock. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so that the mixture bubbles steadily. Cover partially and cook, stirring infrequently, for 20-30 minutes. Add more liquid as neccessary so the mixture remains soupy.
Meanwhile put the asparagus in a shallow roasting pan and drizzle with the remaining 2 T olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast, turning the spears once or twice just until brown spots appear on the stalks. About 10-15 minutes.
When the soup is ready, puree with a stick blender. Then add the rest of the beans and the asparagus – which you cut into 1 to 2 inch lengths. Once everything has warmed through, taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve each bowl with some grated parm on top.