By Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff
I cannot wait for the spring to arrive as this is the time when many new greens spring up! Among them, my favorite is spring garlic, also known as green garlic.
Green garlic is an immature regular garlic plant that has not yet formed into a bulb containing a number of cloves. Some farmers harvest green garlic in early spring before it grows into the mature, more common bulb to delight us garlic lovers!!
Just like the spring onion (or scallion) the entire plant – green portion and the white bulb of green garlic – can be consumed, raw or cooked. Spring garlic is less spicy than regular garlic, and yet it is more flavorful! Green garlic’s mild manners are suitable for those who cannot tolerate the slightest amount of spiciness in their diet.
The season for green garlic is rather short (between March and May, in the SF Bay Area) so get it while it is here. Most supermarkets do not carry green garlic, so you may have to go to find it at an ethnic food market or at your local farmer’s market. I get mine from Herr Family Farm booth at the Outer Sunset Farmers Market (on Ortega Street and 37th Avenue) on Sundays or at Other Avenues Food Co-op on Judah Street and 44th Avenue in the Outer Sunset.
You can grow spring garlic yourself, if you have a small planter in your backyard. To plant garlic, separate garlic cloves from a mature bulb. Then, during early spring, tuck garlic cloves in the soil spacing them closely, about two to three inches apart. Start harvesting when the plants are 12 to 18 inches tall and have formed some white roots.
In addition to being an essential spice that is used in many cuisines, green garlic – as well as its mature counterpart. – is also a health-promoting herb. Garlic has been credited with preventing and curing various illnesses in many cultures. Food proverbs such as “garlic keeps vampires away” and “garlic is as good as 10 mothers” are some examples of these beliefs.
Green Garlic has the same nutritional benefits as regular garlic, but it also contains fair amounts of vitamins present in other greens, such as vitamins C and Bs, as well as phosphorus and manganese. However, the most noteworthy component of green garlic is allicin (also present in mature garlic), a powerful antioxidant that strengthens the immune system and helps our heart health. Garlic’s regenerative properties can reduce blood pressure, the bad cholesterol and inflammation in the body. Garlic has been used in old medicinal traditions for healing wounds and treating toothaches due to its antibacterial properties.
Green garlic can be used in cooking by stir-frying the white portion and most of the green parts and then adding them to soup or sauteed vegetables. Finely chopped raw garlic can be used in green salads or in salad dressings or in condiments, like a chutney as presented here.
A chutney is an Indian condiment that is served in a small amount with appetizers or to accompany any entrees. No Indian meal is complete without a chutney. Serve this chutney with crackers at tea time or a coffee break. Or use this delightful chutney in a liberal portion to spread over two slices of toast to make a sandwich.
½ cup roasted garbanzo beans (chickpeas), salted or unsalted
or dalia (split, roasted chana beans bought from Indian food specialty store)
1 stalk of a large spring garlic or two stalks of small green garlic
(to measure ½ to ¾ cup when roughly chopped with most of the greens)
½ to ¾ cup of roughly chopped cilantro leaves (mostly green parts)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root (you do not have to peel, unless very old and dry)
1 small or ½ medium jalapeno or serrano peppers chopped (remove all seeds and inner veins)
½ cup to ¾ cup unflavored (plain) yogurt or coconut yogurt for a dairy-free option
½ cup or less cold water
¾ to 1 teaspoon salt
First, soak the roasted chickpeas in a cup of water for 10 to 15 minutes while preparing for the other ingredients. Cut off the knob of the white portion of the garlic and remove the few inches of the last portions of green garlic. Coarsely chop the garlic to measure and place in a jar of a food processor or an electric blender. Chop the cilantro leaves after removing the thick stems and add them to the garlic. Grate the ginger root using the medium-teeth grater that you would use for grating cheese. Add to the garlic/cilantro mix. Remove the inner veins and seeds from the jalapeno or serrano pepper (which will remove some of the hot spiciness) and chop them. Add to the other ingredients in the jar. Add the yogurt or non-dairy yogurt to the chutney ingredients. Finally, drain and add the garbanzo beans. Add ½ water and the salt. Blend everything to a smooth paste but leaving some texture. Some people prefer this chutney to be a smooth pureed consistency. If you want yours to be pureed, use an electric blender instead of a food processor and add a bit more water. This chutney can be left very chunky if you are using it as a spread or to make a sandwich filling. But if you like to use it as a dipper for appetizer items such as samosa, then make this chutney into a thin puree by adding more water. Enjoy!
Makes approximately 2 cups of chutney
Shanta is a Sunset District resident and the author of “Cooking Together” and “Flavors of India,” both available at Other Avenues Food Co-op., Green Apple Book Store, Rainbow Grocery Co-op, and at other local bookstores. Shanta writes recipes and articles on food and teaches cooking classes. She shares her recipes via videos on YouTube. To view her cooking videos click Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff’s YouTube videos.
Categories: Cooking Together