The milder side of garlic: Linguine with green garlic and shrimp

by Terry B on June 17, 2009

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.

green-garlic-bon-appetitI’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
Serves 2

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.

Kitchen Notes

If you’re looking for a bigger garlic taste with your shrimp, try my garlicky Shrimp Scampi recipe.


{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Randi June 17, 2009 at 2:03 pm

For some strange reason garlic in my garden never would grow past this stage. It never occurred to me that I could use it. The earth smelled wonderful as I was pulling them out to replace them. WHAT A MISTAKE! haha

Laura June 17, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Oh lovely! I recall an article in the NYT last year about how to use garlic scapes, which I image are somewhat similar in that they are more refined and green than mature garlic. I seem to remember some sort of cream based soup perfumed with garlic? Seems like that could be delicious, especially with a couple of roasted shrimp sitting on top. So I suppose the soup version of this dish that you’ve created?

Holly June 17, 2009 at 7:09 pm

I pulled these out of the CSA exchange box the other and brought ’em home because 1) I really, really do not need 4 zucchinis and 2) because they seemed easier to compost if I totally failed at using them then the 4 zucchinis. But sounds like they’re getting a second chance at life with some shrimps this weekend.

Carolyn June 17, 2009 at 7:34 pm

Oh, this looks lovely. Now that I’m cooking for all the people I kiss on a regular basis, I don’t generally consider mildness a positive trait in garlic, either — but there’s something so beautiful and seasonal about lots and lots of green garlic cooked just fleetingly like you’ve done here. (Or raw, like in your other recipe.) Anyway, it can be fun to make your palate hunt a little harder to find the connections between tastes sometimes, although I often forget that.

Randi, for what it’s worth, I learned from a farmer friend last year that green garlic is actually soft-neck garlic, so what you had in your garden there was the final product. The garlic bulbs that we’re used to are hard-neck varieties. They send up scapes (rather than greens), which are also incredibly delicious and usually appear at the markets — or in your garden, I guess, if you’re so lucky — a little later in the season.

Terry B June 17, 2009 at 8:05 pm

Randi—Hard to say exactly what you had growing there, soft neck, hard neck, who knows? Based on Carolyn’s comment, I did a little snooping and found conflicting information [On the Internet! Imagine that!].

Laura—Even after the pasta and the crostini, we still have some green garlic left. Could be some “perfumed” soup in our future!

Holly—Hope you like the shrimp! And a little zucchini goes a long way, so you made a good choice.

Carolyn—”Cooking for all the people I kiss on a regular basis…” What a charming way to describe domestic bliss!

Olga June 18, 2009 at 12:28 am

ooh we are on the same wavelength: I made shrimp for dinner too, but a totally different way :) will post tomorrow.

what a pretty dish! and I’ve had green garlic once and loved it.

Nishta June 18, 2009 at 12:29 am

I am so with you — garlic + olive oil + hot pan = happy, happy me (extra good if I’ve got a glass of wine stove-side)

but if you say green garlic is worth the whirl, perhaps I will give it a try…I’ve seen it at the market but wasn’t sure what to do with it–I appreciate the inspiration, as always!

also, with Carolyn–I remember my mom telling me when I was *quite* young that when I grew up, I was going to need to find someone to love/live with who liked garlic & onions as much as I do! and I took her advice!

Lydia June 18, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Our favorite organic garlic farm in Oneco, Connecticut, brings green garlic to the farmers’ markets at this time of year. It’s really one of the first fresh tastes of Spring, and we always look forward to it. Love the pairing with shrimp and lemon, too.

Randi June 18, 2009 at 4:16 pm

Carolyn thank you! That makes perfect sense to me. I was unaware of the different varieties. I will try again. A nice excuse to visit the garlic farm we bought them from!

Dorothy from RedEye June 19, 2009 at 12:51 am

Hi Terry! What a great recipe. I’ve seen green garlic at the Green City Market and never knew what to do with it. I’m definitely going to try it this weekend. Also I’m gonna start something on the blog–5 ingredients after 5. Mind if I use this? I’ll link to your blog.
So bummed you can’t do our cookoff this time–hopefully you can in the near future!

The Hungry Mouse June 19, 2009 at 3:26 pm

Wow, this looks amazing! Definitely going to try to get my paws on some green garlic. And those shrimp are just beautiful! Thanks so much. :)


Terry B June 19, 2009 at 5:02 pm

Thanks, Olga! Your shrimp with lemony dill sauce looks delicious.

Nishta—Your mother is a wise woman. So are you, with that glass of wine stove side.

Lydia—I love that you don’t just know of an organic garlic farm, but have a favorite one!

Randi—Glad you stopped back by and saw Carolyn’s comment.

Dorothy—Feel free to link to this post. Yeah, I’m sorry I couldn’t participate in the cookoff. But keep me posted about future events!

Thanks, The Hungry Mouse! And I totally want to try your garlic scapes pesto.

altadenahiker June 21, 2009 at 6:36 pm

Ok N & N, I’m either spending too much or too little time on this site. I tried to make a tempura batter yesterday and I think it’s alive. And angry.

On the other hand, I know how to hang that wallpaper now.

diva June 22, 2009 at 4:58 pm

mmmmm.this is perfection!

Randi June 23, 2009 at 12:15 am

On a last note I just noticed some of the garlic is still growing! I pulled one out and it is exactly like the picture above. It smelled slightly of garlic but had a stronger earth scent. I’m going to taste it anyway just to see.

deref June 23, 2009 at 3:45 pm

good post
garlic scapes are also great to use – good flavor but not so strong.

Terry B June 23, 2009 at 10:58 pm

altadenahiker—But then wouldn’t your walls be alive and angry too? I’m thinking you could use a few more cookbooks. Or the name of a good exorcist.

Thanks, diva!

Randi—Um, you’re supposed to wash it before eating it.

deref—I’ve just been reading about garlic scapes. Now I want to experiment with those too!

Dorothy from RedEye June 23, 2009 at 11:22 pm

Hey Terry! Check out the post at
And we also used your pic in the paper–check it out in Wednesday’s edition! Thanks again for letting us use your delicious recipe!

Terry B June 25, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Thanks, Dorothy! Everybody, if you follow the link above, you’ll see that Blue Kitchen has been mentioned on the RedEye website.

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