Green Garlic Toast Offers a Hint of Springtime
Melissa Clark , The New York Times | Updated: June 03, 2015 15:23 IST
Green garlic season is fleeting.
For a month every spring, slender white-tipped stalks of youthful garlic appear in the market next to the scallions and young, newly dug onions. It can be hard to tell them all apart by looking, but the difference is obvious if you stick your nose near and inhale. Though not intensely pungent, green garlic still smells like its more mature brethren, albeit milder and earthier, with an herbal freshness.
Which is exactly the appeal. Green garlic has the spirit of regular garlic, but at a gentle whisper rather than an aggressive roar. It’s a springtime treat that you shouldn’t pass up if you see it.
And if you do see it, take home the stalks and put them in everything. If you want them sweet and mellow, sauté them with butter and oil, or roast whole stalks until caramelized. I like my green garlic raw, while it’s still sharp-tasting and slightly grassy - tossed into salads, whisked into dressings, whipped into mayonnaise. Then, to preserve the flavor even when the season ends and the bulbs fatten and develop cloves, I blend the last of the tender stalks into compound butters that will keep in the freezer for months.
The compound butter can be as simple or elaborate as you like. Butter, minced green garlic and a pinch of salt are all you really need. In this recipe, I stir in chili flakes, lemon and a good amount of Parmesan as well. It’s basically all of the same flavors I like to pair with mature garlic, but green garlic adds its own brightness to the mix, making it more complex.Like any compound butter, you can form it into a log, freeze it and slice off pieces as you need them, maybe letting the fat melt and drip onto a slab of grilled meat or fish, or using a nugget to sauté eggs or vegetables (like asparagus, spinach or zucchini). Or, for more immediate gratification, make green garlic toasts, slathering the butter onto good bread and broiling it until the cheese in the mix singes and browns.
Eat the toasts plain, or top with any number of tasty tidbits: anchovies, sardines, smashed chickpeas, dollops of ricotta, prosciutto, sliced avocado or grilled eggplant and peppers.
There are many options, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to test a slew of them before your freezer runs bare. But by then, tomatoes will be at their peak, which is delightful compensation.
Green Garlic Toast
Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 8 servings
Slices of crusty bread
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 1/2 tablespoons chopped young green garlic stalks, white and green parts
1 tablespoon minced chives
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, more to taste
Large pinch red chili flakes
1 regular (not green) garlic clove, halved
1. Heat the broiler. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and broil them, flipping them halfway through cooking time, until golden on both sides. Keep warm.
2. In a bowl, stir together the butter, cheese, green garlic, chives, pepper, salt and chili.
3. Rub the toast with the cut side of the regular garlic clove, then spread with the green garlic butter. Broil toast for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, until the tops lightly brown and the butter melts. Serve hot or warm.
© 2015 New York Times News Service
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