Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sacrificial Green Garlic Toasts

As I battled the Bermuda grass last week, I discovered that it had done an impressive job of infiltrating my garlic bed.  Bastard grass.  I really hate this stuff.  I followed the rhizomes under the ground and it became inevitable that some of my poor garlic would be disturbed.  But instead of being devastated by this, I took it as an opportunity to try out green garlic from my very own garden.

Have you ever heard of green garlic?  I hadn't until earlier this month when it was all over the menu at a fancy local restaurant.  Green garlic is just like spring onion- garlic that is harvested before it bulbs up.  It looks a lot like leek and has a milder garlic flavor than fully developed cloves.  There is a good chance that you might be able to find some in farmers' markets right about now.

Once I had my sacrificial green garlic I needed to find a recipe for it.  There weren't that many kicking around.  I found one enticing recipe on Epicurious for green garlic-artichoke soup that tempted me.  I also found a recipe for green garlic souffle in the Eating Local cookbook.  But then Deb over at Smitten Kitchen posted a recipe for leeks on toast with blue cheese.  This looked like the perfect recipe for me to adapt using my fresh green garlic.

Last night I put that adaptation plan into action.  I liked the idea of pairing the garlic with feta, one of Deb's suggestions as a pairing with leeks.  I thought the saltiness of the feta would compliment the mild garlic nicely.  Blue cheese might be good, but I didn't want it overpowering the garlic.  I wanted to taste the garlic.  The feta & garlic match worked beautifully - the toasts had the most delicate garlic flavor I could possibly want along with the slight salty tang of feta.  They were actually reminiscent of my favorite Trader Joe's frozen appetizer: caramelized onion and feta pastry bites.  But believe it or not, these toasts were even better because they're made with garlic.  Garlic beats onion any day in my kitchen.

After devouring the first few toasts I became convinced that this is one of those great, simple recipes that just makes you happy.  You take a bite, chew, taste, and smile.  Mmmm.  This deliciousness is so good, in fact, I might just have to thank the Bermuda grass for requiring the sacrifice of the lovely green garlic.  However next season I will choose to harvest the green garlic to make these toasts, rather than harvest as a sacrifice to the Great Bermuda Grass Eradication Effort.

Sacrificial Green Garlic Toasts
Makes ~4 toasts
Modified from Smitten Kitchen
This recipe could easily be up-scaled or served as an appetizer

4 stalks green garlic (~1 heaping cup, chopped)
1-2 Tablespoons butter
coarse salt
ground pepper
Ciabatta or other nice bread for toasts
lemon juice
~1/4 cup crumbled feta

Remove papery covering and trim roots from green garlic if needed.  Trim garlic stalk at the start of green leaves; compost or trash the leaves.  Slice garlic stalks in half lengthwise, then slice crosswise into half-moons, white and light green parts only.  Place sliced green garlic in a bowl with cold water to rinse the dirt from the garlic. 

Next, heat butter in a pan over medium heat until melted and sizzling.  Add in drained but wet green garlic.  Add a couple dashes salt and a dash pepper.  Stir the garlic into the butter, cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally.  If the garlic starts to brown too quickly, turn down the heat and add a splash more water.  The green garlic should take ~15-20 minutes to caramelize. 

Slice ciabatta or baguette.  Once the garlic has gotten a nice translucence and is caramelizing in spots, place ciabatta slices on a baking sheet and set under the broiler on high for ~2 minutes until nicely toasted.

Spoon the green garlic onto the toasts, sprinkle each toast with a dash lemon juice, then top with crumbled feta.  If you want, put the toasts back under the broiler for 30 seconds to gently brown the feta.


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