I have been busy stalking certain vegetables that I've been told are only available during this time of year. Green garlic, or spring garlic as it is sometimes called, is one of them. If no one had told me about it, I wouldn't have been able to tell it apart from spring onion. Thankfully, I'm subscribed to a CSA farm share as part of my mission to find new vegetables to try for my Spring Discovery project, and urban farmer Angie of The Freckled Rose has graciously offered to tell me more about it.
"I enjoy simplified dishes when I harvest from my garden, and I like green garlic grilled. I slice them in half and top with some olive oil, salt and pepper. This is easy and quick to do on any backyard barbeque grill. Most people are unfamiliar with it, so I enjoy serving it in its most simplistic form," she said.
Angie told me to use green garlic as I would normal garlic. Comparatively, green garlic has a milder taste, and I wanted to use it in a simple recipe that allows the elegant flavor to come forth. This fried farro recipe is derived from the Japanese garlic fried rice, a humble dish with a big punch. Together with spring onion, the flavor of the season is nicely encapsulated by the chewy nuttiness of farro in this easy side dish.
Ah, the fresh taste of Spring! "Eating seasonally is utilizing what crops are in season or at their peak in your area. You can do this by growing and harvesting in your own garden as well as taking advantage of the local farmers markets," said Angie. "This not only has health benefits, but also benefits the environment and the amount you spend on food. I also can’t forget to mention that since it’s fresh, it tastes amazing! When people eat seasonally, it really helps support local farmers. That’s why it’s always a great idea to get different foods from the CSA and farms near you whenever possible."
Angie is passionate about gardening, photography and all things farming. She started her website The Freckled Rose in the hopes of sharing and learning from other nature-loving bloggers. "I am a year-round vegetable gardener who loves to experiment with tasting different fresh foods grown in my very own backyard. The main crops I enjoy growing consist of tomatoes, greens, peppers, beans and cucumbers. My garden is full of them every summer! I always have my camera right by my side and love taking pictures of the nature around me."
Spring is definitely the season of awakening on the farm and in the garden. "The animals begin to lay eggs more regularly and the daily activity ramps up. It’s not uncommon for some new baby chicks to hatch! Schedules become full of cleaning and prepping when transitioning seasons. Seeds are being planted, and winter-grown vegetables are getting ready to be harvested. Spring bulbs are beginning to bloom, and it’s almost time to purchase flowers from the local garden center. I’m beginning to prep garden beds with compost and new soil. It’s a very exciting time with much to do!"
Getting to Know Green Garlic with Angie Lituri of The Freckled Rose
Green garlic in a nutshell: Green garlic is basically the immature garlic plant that can be harvested in early spring. It is also sometimes referred to as spring garlic. Gardeners plant garlic in the fall before the first frost hits. Once the snow starts to melt, the garlic plant begins to sprout green foliage during the beginning of spring in February through March. Under the soil, the garlic bulb has not fully formed yet. Farmers, as well as gardeners, can cut off the green part of the plant when thinning to encourage and promote growth. This portion that is harvested can be equally as tasty as the actual garlic itself!
Describe the taste: Although you can enjoy green garlic raw or cooked, I prefer it cooked in dishes. It is more mellow in flavor, and not as strong and spicy as the regular garlic. It has a very pleasant, less potent flavor. If you do not enjoy the bitter bite of garlic but still want all the health benefits of it, you probably want to cook with this instead.
How to select and store: As with any plant, avoid green garlic with obvious bruising, pungent odor and severe wilting. Dark green, strong and sturdy looking leaves indicate a healthy plant. Green garlic can be stored up to a week when refrigerated. As with most vegetables, it is best when fresh. Wrap your green garlic in a damp paper towel and put inside a plastic bag. This will help it stay fresh. In a rush or on the run? Store it in a mason jar with some water in the bottom inside of your refrigerator.
How to tell green garlic and spring onion apart: Green garlic often looks very similar to spring onions or scallions. You can instantly tell the difference by smell. Green garlic has a mild garlic scent whereas spring onions have that distinctive oniony smell. Green garlic will have flat leaves instead of rounded leaves. The base of the plant will be white with a slight magenta tinge.
How to use: Green garlic is often added to soups and stir-fries. It is also delicious in salads and pesto and gives a delicious flavor to dips. Any dish you like to add garlic to when cooking can be replaced with green garlic instead! It can also be enjoyed on its own grilled or sautéed!
How to prepare: So when it comes to prep, it really depends on what you are cooking. Here are the basics. Use every tender part of the plant that is white and light green. Make sure to cut off the bottom of the bulb. The dark green leaves can also be enjoyed. They taste great in a stock as well as in a soup. If sold still attached to the young clove and you wish to cook with this, they do not require peeling. Just chop as desired before cooking.
Fun fact: Garlic is believed to ward of a myriad of diseases as well as the common cold. It is believed to be a great way to lower blood cholesterol levels as well as blood pressure. It is also a known fact that garlic has healing properties and if applied to a wound can heal it faster.
This post is part of the Spring Discovery series, where we put the spotlight on Spring vegetables. Also get to know radish, leek, beetroot and turnip. And check out The Freckled Rose for a taste of life on the farm through Angie's beautiful photography.
Green Garlic and Spring Onion Fried Farro
A derivation of the popular Japanese garlic fried rice, this recipe is easy and fast to make. It uses green garlic and spring onion to achieve the fresh taste of spring, which truly shines in its simplicity. Farro is an ancient grain believed to be the mother of all grains. It has a nutty flavor and a chewy texture. Serves 3 to 4 as a side dish.
4 cups cooked farro* (see notes below)
2 green garlic, white bulb only
2 spring onions, bulbs and leaves separated
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet or wok. Add green garlic and spring onion bulbs and stir-fry until they are soft and aromatic. Stir in the cooked farro and soy sauce. When the ingredients are nicely distributed, which should take no longer than 5 minutes, add the spring onion leaves and give everything a good toss. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.
*Notes: To cook farro, measure 1 1/2 cups of uncooked farro and rinse well with water. Place in a pot with 4 cups of water or stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until farro is soft and chewy, about 30 minutes. Yields about 4 cups of cooked farro. Learn more about cooking farro.