As the hungry gap starts, we are relying on crops that grow over-winter and under glass. This week we have spring garlic from Organiclea’s Hawkwood Nursery in Chingford.
Picked early, spring garlic – or ‘scapes’ – looks a lot like spring onion, and, similarly, it has a milder flavour than the mature bulb while retaining a bit of a kick in its raw state. It is surprisingly versatile – perfect in leaf salads, soups, potato salads and pasta sauces. Its double whammy of green goodness and intensity makes it a perfect spring crop, hinting at the abundance and flavours to come…
I like to try new vegetables (especially greens) by gently sautéing them. It brings out the sweetness as the juices caramelise in the oil (or butter). Usually I would add garlic – but no need this time!
1 bunch of spring garlic. Cut into 3-inch lengths (or bigger if you have a large enough pan, whole looks great on the plate!)
2 tablespoons lemon juice.
3 tablespoons of olive oil (or equivalent butter)
Salt and pepper.
Heat the oil or butter on a medium-high heat, when hot add the spring garlic. Roll the scapes in oil and sauté for two minutes. Turn the heat down and add the lemon juice, salt and pepper to tase. Continue to sauté until the thickest stems are tender. Serve hot (possibly with a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan).
Another alternative is to boil some fresh spinach in salted water for 5-8 minutes, cool under cold water then drain, squeezing out excess moisture. Then add to the half-sautéed scapes. Chopping the scapes into smaller pieces will allow the spinach to absorb more garlic flavour.