A treat for garlic lovers at this time of year are fresh juicy heads of green or
'wet' garlic. They have a very short season from May to July, so now is the time to pounce. You'll find them in farm shops and good greengrocers.
There is a world of difference between green garlic and the garlic we use during the rest of the year. Unlike ordinary garlic, which is left in the ground to mature, green garlic is harvested while young and tender. It has a thick juicy stem, rather than a raffia-like wisp, and moist pliable skin. The pearly white cloves have a skin so fine and silky that most don't need peeling. Some cloves are no more than a cluster of delicate embryos jostling for space with the plumper ones. The mild flavour leaves hardly a trace on the breath. Highly prized by cooks and chefs, this is the garlic for safely eating raw.
Green garlic is at its best in light summery dishes that allow its subtlety to shine through. Try it in soups, egg dishes, or even raw and thinly sliced in sandwiches or on buttered pumpernickel bread. A delicious canapé to be enjoyed with a glass of chilled rosé is Garlic and Parsley Butter spread on toast: finely chop a whole green garlic head with some parsley, fold into unsalted butter and season with crunchy sea salt flakes and good quality
To roast whole bulbs, score them across the top to make a cross that cuts deeply into the cloves. Wrap in foil and roast in a medium oven for about 1 hour. The resulting goo that pops from the roasted cloves is wonderfully sweet and mellow – perfect for smearing on bruschetta or home-made pizza, or tossing with pasta and olive oil. It can also be whisked into salad dressings or added
Roasted for a shorter time, the bulbs can be served as a vegetable in their
own right, with roast chicken or lamb, for example, or in a robustly flavoured grain-based salad such as my recipe for Couscous Salad with Roasted Green Garlic.
© Christine McFadden, June 2013