Today and Sunday on “Let’s Eat,” Edible Manhattan‘s weekly TV segment on NY1, chef Shea Gallante of Ciano on E. 22nd Street talks about green garlic, or garlic that is picked and eaten fresh in spring instead of left to grow till maturity in fall, when it is cured so that it’ll last throughout the winter. As Gallante explains, green garlic has a subtle wonderful flavor, but what makes it so cool is that you can eat the whole thing: bulb, stem and all. That’s why it’s one of our Seven Ingredients of the Week for 2011 Eat Drink Local Week, which begins at the end of next month.
Gallante actually grew up eating green garlic as a part of a gardening family in Upstate New York. His grandparents and mother would harvest the months-old crop and then cook it slowly in olive oil and can the results, using the garlicky goodness on pastas, vegetables and other dishes throughout the year. “You know it was just kinda like having relish or, or some kind of Asian condiment in your refrigerator,” says Gallante, who does the same thing at his restaurant today. (Though now he often gets his green garlic from farmer Rick Bishop at Mountain Sweet Berry farm, who we profile in the current issue.)
To make green garlic confit, Gallante chops the whole green garlic stems very thinly, puts it in a saute pan or pot and covers it with oil, then cooks it slowly over a low flame “until you see just barely bubbling. And just kind of like move it on and off the heat for like, an hour, hour and a half,” he says, “until you can bite it and it’s not crunchy anymore.” The result, kept in the fridge, keeps for weeks.
What Gallante often does these days is mix a bit of that with tomatoes, lemon and two kinds of vinegar to make an incredibly flavorful tart-sweet topping almost like a salsa, used at room temperature on grilled fish and pastas. It’s a neat mix of the richness of the cooked green garlic and the freshness of the raw tomato and lemon, spiked with the sweet bite of two vinegars. The recipe is below, and be sure to check out the video of him making it on NY1 right here.
Ciano’s Green Garlic Condiment
1 skinned and seeded tomato, cut into a fine dice
Lemon supremes from one large lemon (here’s how to prepare those)
2 large spoonfuls green garlic confit, plus more to taste
1 tb balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sherry vinegar