Spring officially arrives on Sunday! Most farmers tailgate markets around the region have opening dates starting in April and May. We’ll have a rundown of times and locations for Buncombe County markets in next week’s report. Though it will still be a month or so before we see asparagus, rhubarb, or strawberries at markets, we’re definitely feeling the turning of the season. This week, we’re excited to see green garlic, a herald of spring, from Lee’s One Fortune Farm, at ASAP Farmers Market and River Arts District Farmers Market.
Green garlic is simply a young version of garlic, harvested before the head has matured. It looks similar to scallions, but you can tell the difference by the leaves, which are flat instead of tubular. It differs from garlic scapes, harvested in late spring or early summer, which are the curly shoots that extend out of the garlic plant with closed buds on top. Green garlic is milder than both head garlic or scapes, making it particularly suited to delicate herb sauces or salads.
Chermoula is a Moroccan herb paste made from garlic, spices, and herbs. You can use it to marinate fish or meat, stir it into soup or stew, or thin it out and use as a dressing for salad or roasted vegetables. To make it with green garlic, prep the stalks by removing the root end as well as the tougher green tops. Roughly chop two bulbs along with the tender section of the stem. Put in the bowl of a food processor along with half a cup of cilantro, one third cup parsley, zest of one lemon, and a fourth teaspoon each of salt and sweet paprika. In a small pan, lightly toast half a teaspoon each of cumin seeds and coriander seeds, and add them to the food processor. (Ground spices will work as well, if you want to skip this step.) Add a dash of chili flakes, if you want. Pulse the food processor until everything is roughly chopped. With the motor running, drizzle in about a fourth cup of olive oil or more, depending on your desired consistency. Cilantro is available from Lee’s One Fortune Farm.
Other herb sauces, like pesto, chimichurri, or salsa verde, also work great with green garlic.
Or use green garlic for a spring take on tabbouleh salad. Measure one cup bulgur wheat into a bowl and pour two cups of boiling water over. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop about a cup of tender green garlic stems (reserving the bulbs for another use), two cups parsley, and half a cup mint. Dice a few in-season vegetables, such as carrots, snow peas, or radishes. When the bulgur is cool, mix everything together with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Add local feta or cooked chickpeas for a more complete meal.
At winter markets now you’ll also find beets, turnips, and winter greens like, kale, spinach, bok choy, broccoli rabe, and cabbage, as well as tender lettuce and baby greens. Markets are also stocked with a variety of meats, cheese, rice, pasta, pastries, drinks, and prepared foods. Find more details about farms and markets throughout the region, including winter hours, in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide.