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New garlic (not to be confused with green garlic, the kind that looks a bit like scallions or spring onions, with the greenery attached) has plump bulbs that are fully formed. The cloves are easy to peel and deliciously damp — in some parts it’s known as “wet garlic.”
Because this kind hasn’t been hung out to dry with a view to storage, it will not keep for long, so you need to use it up pronto. It works especially well in recipes that call for raw garlic cloves: New garlic is less pungent and peppery and more digestible than its aged cousin.
At the market in Saint Cézaire-sur-Siagne in Provence, France, in early May, the first of the season’s new garlic was on sale. I snapped up several heads and bore them home delightedly.
If you can get your hands on new garlic, here are three recipes to showcase its flavor.
Fava Bean Dip With New Garlic and Cream Cheese
This pale green hummus-inspired dip is great in early summer, when fresh fava or broad beans and new garlic are in season. The beans replace the chickpeas of regular hummus and there’s cream cheese instead of tahini, plus a topping of toasted seeds at the end for texture. You need to buy about 2 pounds (1 kilogram) of beans in the pod to arrive at about 8 ounces (250 grams) of shelled beans. Spread this dip on crusty bread or toasted pita or serve with chicken, veal, fish or crunchy-cooked spring vegetables (zucchini, radishes, baby carrots, sugar snaps and small turnips).
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 2 minutes
Total time: 12 minutes
Yield: Makes 4 servings
8 ounces (250 grams) shelled fava beans (fresh or frozen)
A pinch of salt
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime or 1/2 a lemon
1 clove new garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces (50 grams) cream cheese
1 teaspoon za’atar spice mixture
A pinch of crushed chilies or piment d’Espelette
1 tablespoon mixed seeds (sesame, poppy, linseed, sunflower)
1. Bring a pan of lightly salted water to a boil, drop in the shelled beans and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until just tender.
2. Drain the beans, then pop them out of their leathery skins.
3. Place prepared beans in a food processor or blender, add the salt, cilantro, lime or lemon juice and garlic and process till smooth.
4. With the motor still running, drizzle in the olive oil; scrape down the sides and reblend.
5. Add the cream cheese, za’atar spice mixture and crushed chilies or piment d’Espelette and blend again.
6. Tip the mixture into a small dish or bowl and refrigerate.
7. Put the seeds in a small frying pan without any extra oil (they have enough of their own) and heat steadily, shaking the pan from time to time, till the seeds are golden brown and fragrant.
8. Sprinkle the seeds over the dip just before serving.
Salsa of Roasted Tomatoes, New Garlic and Chilli
A Mexican-inspired spicy salsa — the tomatoes, garlic, onion and chilies get a toasting on a griddle or in a dry frying pan (no oil) before they go into the blender, which intensifies the flavor and gives them a smack of smoke. Don’t peel the tomatoes, but blend them with their toasty skins. Serve with barbecued meats, tacos or quesadillas.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Total time: About 15 minutes
Yield: Makes 4 servings
4 ripe medium tomatoes
2 cloves new garlic, unpeeled
1 to 2 fresh chilies (serranos, jalapeños or bird’s eye)
2 scallions, halved lengthwise
1 teaspoon salt
1. Rinse the tomatoes and place them on a griddle or in a dry, ungreased frying pan with the unpeeled garlic, chillies and spring onions.
2. Heat until the chilies, tomatoes and onions are lightly toasted and the garlic soft. The chilies will be ready first — remove them so they don’t burn. Keep turning the tomatoes and prop them up against one another, so they toast evenly. They’re done when little brownish-black flecks appear all over the skin and they are a little softened.
3. Remove all ingredients from the griddle or pan. Remove stems from the chilies, split them open, scrape out the seeds and chop roughly (use rubber gloves if you are sensitive to chili heat.)
4. Slip the garlic out of its skins. Do not peel the tomatoes.
5. Place chillies, garlic, tomatoes and scallions in the blender with 1 teaspoon of salt and blend till smooth.
Refrigerate the sauce till needed.
Creamy Sauce of New Garlic, Chili and Cilantro
A pale green sauce that’s done in a flash. For a quick supper, serve with linguine, adding a few lightly steamed vegetables. You can also pour it around chicken breasts or roasted quail or serve under white fish filets or salmon for a great color contrast.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Yield: Makes 1 cup
6 cloves new garlic
1 cup (250 milliliters) whipping cream
A pinch of salt
1 fresh chilli, red or green, seeds removed, finely chopped (optional)
A small bunch (about 1 ounce, 25 grams) cilantro, leaves and stalks
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup (125 milliliters) water
1. Slip the garlic cloves out of their jackets and place in a small saucepan.
2. Add the cream, salt and chili (if using) and bring to a gentle simmer.
3. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the garlic is quite soft.
4. Mix the cornstarch with the water.
5. Tip the sauce into a blender, add the cilantro leaves and stalks and cornstarch and blend till smooth.
6. Return sauce to the pan and bring to a boil again. Simmer for about 5 minutes, whisking with a small wire whisk, until thickened — no longer, or the sauce will lose its fresh green color. If too thick, add a little more water to give a lightly coating consistency.
Main image: New garlic. Credit: Copyright 2016 Sue Style