These are the shoots of immature garlic bulbs. They resemble a larger and more robust green onion shoot (scallions). Green garlic can be used in much the same manner as green onions and they provide a fragrant, warm garlic flavour that is nowhere near as pungent as the bulb. It is a delicious ingredient in stir fries, omelettes and risotto.
Green garlic is very popular in Italy and France, however they can be found at grower's markets in the larger cities around Australia and I suspect many other countries as well. If they are not available in your area, don't worry, they are the essence of simplicity to grow. All you need is a bulb of garlic and a sunny spot in the garden or windowsill. Separate the garlic into cloves, there is no need to peel them. Plant the cloves with the green shoot facing up in late autumn. May in the Southern Hemisphere, November in the north. They will be ready for harvesting the following spring.
Here is a recipe using green garlic, but it works equally well with green onions or leeks.
Green garlic frittata
1 bunch green garlic (about 16 shoots)
1 Tbs olive oil
6 free range eggs
2 Tbs chopped parsley
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Trim and clean the green garlic. This is pretty much the same as green onions but the top are a little tougher in green garlic, so these need to be removed. Cut off the roots and peel away any dying or dry leaves. Slice into short lengths, a couple of centimetres.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently saute the green garlic for about five minutes. Whisk the eggs together with 50 ml (2 fl oz) water and the seasoning. Don't over beat, you just need to break the eggs up a bit. Pour the eggs into the frying pan over the green garlic. Cook gently for about 8 minutes or until the frittata is just set. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and parsley. You can place the frittata under a griller (broiler) for a minute to brown the top a little if you wish.
Serves 4 with a green salad, fresh bread and a glass of white wine. Now this is hacker food.