Green garlic adds its subtle touch to a simple, sublime supper. Recipe below.
A quick note: Green garlic inspired two recipes this week. After you finish this post, be sure to stick around for Pan-grilled Crostini with Green Garlic and Chevre.
This is not at all what I had in mind for this week’s post. But then there we were at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Sunday, looking at beautiful bunches of green garlic at the Videnovich Farms booth. Green garlic is young garlic harvested before the cloves form. They’re similar to scallions and leeks in appearance, and the entire plant is edible. The taste is much more delicate than mature garlic.
I’d never actually cooked with green garlic before, so my first stop was the Internet. And the first thing I found was a New York Times article—“Garlic Defanged”—in which San Francisco chef Daniel Patterson confessed his dislike for garlic [well, actually more of an irrational fear of it], then sang the praises green garlic as “its sweeter, more likable offspring.” This was not a promising start for me. I love garlic. A lot. In fact, I’m sometimes frustrated that the big olfactory rush of garlic hitting a hot pan is usually greatly diminished by the time you’re plating whatever you’ve cooked.
But Patterson goes on to call green garlic “a transformational ingredient, one that can remain in the background while making the elements around it better.” Okay, I was interested again. I studied the recipes he includes in the article, particularly one for Linguine with Green Garlic Clam Sauce. It seemed to have a little too much going on to let the green garlic shine through—to me, it had to play a bigger role, if a subtle one, in whatever I ended up cooking with it.
Next, I found an ultra simple recipe by Josh Friedland over at The Food Section. Pasta, green garlic, butter and cheese. This sounded more like a pure celebration of green garlic, but what I was looking for was actually somewhere in the middle of those two recipes. I liked the idea of seafood and I always love how garlic and lemon play together, so inspired by Josh’s simplicity, I came up with this very stripped down take on Patterson’s dish. The green garlic is definitely subtle and delicate in this dish—you can even tell that it will be from the fragrances as you cook. But as Patterson says, it does indeed make the other elements better.
Linguine with Green Garlic and Shrimp
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped green garlic, white and light green parts only
1/2 to 3/4-pound raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus the zest of 1 lemon
6 ounces linguine
Bring a pot of water to boil while you prep the other ingredients. When the water is boiling, salt it generously and start cooking the pasta according to package instructions.
When the pasta is about 4 minutes from being done, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over a medium flame. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the green garlic and shrimp and season everything well with salt and pepper. Cook shrimp on the first side for about 2 minutes, then turn, meanwhile stirring the green garlic occasionally to keep it from browning. Cook the shrimp until it is just cooked through and opaque, another minute or so. Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest.
Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the shrimp mixture in the skillet, tossing to coat thoroughly with the olive oil. If the pasta appears a little dry, add a little cooking liquid to the pan. Divide the pasta between two shallow pasta bowls or plates and spoon the shrimp/green garlic mixture on top. Much of the green garlic may seem reluctant to leave the pan. Be insistent in spooning it out—you’ll want as much of its flavor as possible on your plates. Serve.
If you’re looking for a bigger garlic taste with your shrimp, try my garlicky Shrimp Scampi recipe.