Tis the season…. for green garlic. Also known as spring garlic or wet garlic, this is the young version of the garlic we all know.
As an ingredient garlic has become ubiquitous and as unseasonal as other ‘basic’ ingredients such as chickens, eggs or onions. But in fact it has a very distinct seasonal cycle, and because of its influence it can make a huge difference to any dish you are preparing. If you are still buying or using dry garlic, toss it in the chook bucket or compost bin. It’s as out of season as you can possibly get.
In late winter (if it wasn’t sprayed with a sprouting inhibitor- yuk) it would have started the journey to replace itself by sending a small green shoot through the middle of the clove. As soon as this happens the flavor of the garlic changes, as it’s sending all energy into this growing shoot. For my tastebuds it’s almost a rancid flavor and its pungency can be overwhelming.
This means a few months without garlic in our household, and the new season’s green garlic is hugely anticipated. When it’s ready, we use it in everything. Green garlic is incredibly versatile, especially as you can use the whole plant including the stalk and the green leaves (scapes).
We plant garlic cloves in the ground in May, which is the perfect time to also plant broad beans, and the two crops grow happily beside each other. It always feels right then to use them together in the kitchen, and this broad bean, feta and green garlic dip is a perfect example of this.
Broad Bean Dip with Feta and Green Garlic
1kg of fresh broad beans (yields about 2 cups podded)
1 tablespoon salt
½ cup chopped green garlic (stalks and bulb)
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
¼ cup of water
salt and pepper
3-4 good size sprigs of fresh mint
Pod the beans and throw into salted boiling water (4 cups water, 1 tablespoons salt).
Simmer for 3 minutes only, remove beans with slotted spoon and plunge into iced water. This stops them cooking and helps keep the green colour.
Some of the bigger beans may have split their outer shell, so simply squeeze this off, leaving the green bean inside.
Heat olive oil in a small frying pan on a medium heat. Add the cooked chopped green garlic and cook until softened but not browned. Maybe 5 minutes.
Put beans into a food processor with softened green garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, feta, mint and water. Pulse until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with crackers or new season carrots or other vegetables.