What are those spring onion looking things in your CSA box that aren’t spring onions? Well, that’s Green Garlic! (You can tell them apart from scallions/green onions by their flat leaves, lighter green color, and garlicky aroma).
Green garlic is the immature form of garlic before it makes a head of cloves. At Taproot, it helps fill the void between when we’ve used up our last stores of garlic from the previous year and before we can start picking fresh heads in mid summer (we’d never want to go without something garlicky in our diets!). It is far less pungent than clove garlic, making it useful for raw applications as well as cooked–and because it is still young and tender, you can use all of the green stalk as well as the white bulbous part.
One of my favorite (and simplest) ways to use green garlic is to quickly sauté it with any one of the numerous cooking greens offered in the CSA box this time of year. This week, Spinach, Red Russian Kale, and Swiss Chard all make an appearance. No matter what green you use, be sure to rinse it and remove any unwanted stems and damaged leaves before cooking. (Note: the stems of both kale and swiss chard are edible when cooked, but require more cooking time than the leaves. If using, simply chop and add to the pan a few minutes before you add the leaves.) I made this recipe using swiss chard, but it could be made with kale, spinach, turnip greens, bok choy, or braising mix as well.
Sauteed Cooking Greens with Green Garlic
Remove any yellowed or damaged leaves from 4 stalks of green garlic. Chop off the roots and discard. Chop the rest of the white bulb and green stalks like you would a green onion.
In your favorite skillet, heat 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the chopped green garlic. Stir to coat with oil and let cook on medium-high heat until soft, stirring occassionally.
While the garlic is cooking, roughly chop the leaves (and stems, if desired) of one bunch of cooking greens. Add greens to the skillet, tossing with oil and garlic until they wilt and turn bright green. Don’t over-cook: as soon as the greens wilt down, remove from heat. Season lemon juice (from about 1/3 of a fresh lemon) and salt to taste. Serve as a side dish, or mixed in with a main dish of pasta, rice, or other grain of choice.
Asian variation: Replace olive oil with coconut oil, add 1 Tbs chopped fresh ginger to the garlic, and season with soy sauce.
Italian variation: Instead of lemon juice, use balsamic vinegar and grate parmesan cheese on top.