Its almost mid march. Thats a spit away from a fully blown spring. When did that happen?
This time of the year goes by so quickly, but for now the almond trees are in full bloom and, like lanterns showing the way, I see them scattered along the highway leading to Jerusalem.
At the market, alongside tomatoes, melons and grapes that are oddly offered and on display, the stalls are bursting with all sorts of green: there's spinach, peas and string beans, artichokes, fava, and an elusive favorite, the green garlic.
Most of the year one can mostly get a hold of dry imported garlic from China, but around this time of year the fragrant green version pops up here and there and worth watching out for.
The other day I was out market and bought a bunch. The garlic is sold with the thick stem and leaves still attached and this serves 2 needs; a) it looks good, all fresh and straight from the ground, but b) when put on the scale, the garlic weighs more, ending with the customer paying more for less. gotta love it. When I suggested to the vendor to do it the other way around I was met with a sniggering laugh. I must have been kidding. I returned home, poorer yet richer, with tagged by a garlicky cloud that followed me all the way back home.
The layers that dry up and flake away are fresh and fragrant. These I like to chop into a salad or soup. Using them up makes way for bright white garlic cloves that ooze a pungent freshness. There has got to be a way to hold on to these for longer. There is. Green garlic confit. The closest thing to stopping time.
There isn’t a recipe as such, the thing to do is buy quite a few, and prepare enough confit to last you for some time.
Green garlic, separated to cloves (you can cook with the fresh leaves, so don’t throw them away)
Place the garlic cloves in a saucepan so that they reach halfway of its hieight.
Cover with plenty of olive oil and cook over medium- low heat.
The temperature shouldn’t be too high and small bubbles will gently rise to the surface but it mustn’t boil or simmer. We want the garlic to cook in the oil, not deep-fry it.
Cook the garlic for about 30 minutes or until the cloves softened. Set aside and allow to cool.
Transfer the garlic and the now aromatic olive oil to a clean jar and store in the fridge.
Remember to use only clean utensils to scoop the cloves out or drizzle the oil.
That’s it. A little work will take you along way. These are wonderful on toast with anchovy and rubbed tomato, as pasta dressing, with olive oil, salt and pepper, or minced and rubbed over flat dough, sprinkled with crushed salt and rosemary needles for a garlicky pizza.
The olive oil is the cherry on top, having been infused with the garlic. For immediate elevation use it to fry your omelettes, baked goods or anything else you use olive oil for.