Shopping seasonally brings me a great number of joys. The sweetest kale in the winter frost, the first spears of asparagus in spring, soft summer peaches and autumnal chestnuts. But with the joy of these first arrivals, comes the pain of an absent staple. The hardest time of year for me is at the end of winter when the supply of bulbs of garlic has finished and the new crop isn’t yet ready to be pulled. The supermarket may offer you imported garlic, but I want no part of that.
Thankfully, after a short break at the end of the season, the farmers market has young garlic for sale. Some people sell it as salad garlic, and some people as spring garlic. My understanding is that this garlic is picked before the garlic bulb is formed. It looks like a leek or spring onion. I’ve used it in the past, but I’m only just starting to get the hang of cooking with this more delicate garlic. You need to cook the white part of the garlic very gently, and not too long. But my most recent, and exciting discovery is how you can use the green parts. You can treat them the way you would spring onion. They’re just like big garlic chives. You can stir fry them if you like. I’ve sliced them thinly and used them in a delicious fresh slaw that worked beautifully in prawn tacos. They’re also great sliced over some grilled mushrooms on toast.
This week though, I’ve used the garlic greens in a simple but super delicious and ridiculously healthy veggie burger. I used those green tops to add great garlicky flavour to some kale and lentil patties. They’re vegan and gluten free for those who need it, but they taste amazing with some crisp bacon, lettuce and sun dried tomatoes. Of course you could use vegan mayo if that’s more your thing, but they would be great with avocado instead.
There are other great ways to get your local garlic though. An organic garlic producer in Bredbo has started making black garlic. Black garlic is a great product with twice the antioxidants of fresh garlic. It’s naturally fermented in high humidity, low temperature environment. Bredbo black garlic has delicious molasses flavour, with a light citrus finish. I’m going to use some in chicken and black garlic wontons which I’ll serve in short soup with fresh shiitake mushrooms. It’s also amazing mashed though some mayonnaise, dolloped atop fresh sardine tacos. At my cooking demonstration at the farmers market last weekend I simply butterflied a chicken breast and stuffed it with black garlic and pan fried it to golden perfection. It would be a lovely mid week dinner served with exotic mushrooms or Chinese broccoli and steamed rice.
Alternatively, you could pick up a handy shaker of locally roasted garlic to sprinkle over your roast potatoes or pasta. Or buy a jar of smoked garlic salt to cook a delicious roast chicken. Which ever way you look at it, even in the off season, you still have a range of options to include locally grown garlic in your weekly diet.