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Enjoy young garlic during its springtime appearance

Recipe: Green garlic risotto is full of color and flavor

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Green garlic flavor permeates this spring green risotto. (Photos: Kathy
Morrison)

The farmers markets are starting to fill up with spring produce. One of my favorites to cook with is green garlic, which makes a short appearance this time of year as plantings are thinned. 

Green garlic simply is garlic that hasn't yet formed its distinctive papery bulbs. The single bulb and the light green stalk are all edible, just as with green onions. The flavor definitely says garlic, but it's not as pungent as full-grown garlic.

Risotto shows off this flavor spectacularly. This particular recipe -- adapted from one I found at
saltpepperskillet.com -- is bright green, thanks to some spinach and an extra step. But if you prefer, or want to speed things up, you can skip that part and use only the white bulb part just like you would onion in any risotto. And be patient with risotto -- it takes a lot of stirring to get the rice to absorb the broth, but it's so worth the effort.

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The green garlic stalks look like leeks or over-achieving scallions, but one whiff
will tell you this is garlic. Arborio rice, Parmesan and greens are the other key
ingredients for the risotto.

Green garlic risotto
Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main dish

Ingredients :

2 bulbs/stalks green garlic
1 cup fresh greens such as baby spinach, arugula or baby chard
1/2 cup white wine
5-1/2 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
Olive oil
1 cup arborio rice
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions :

Trim the ends of the green garlic and cut off the white bulbs. Chop the bulbs and set aside. Rinse the stalks well and roughly chop them. (Depending on how big the stalk is, you may want to chop off the toughest top dark green part and compost it.)

Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl (basically a bowl of cold water with about 6 ice cubes in it.) In a large saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Blanch the chopped stalk pieces for 3 minutes or until tender, adding the 1 cup greens to the broth during the final 30 seconds.

Scoop out the blanched greens from the broth and put them in the ice bath. This stops the cooking and preserves the intense green color. (If you can't catch some of the smaller pieces in the broth, don't worry -- they'll end up in the risotto eventually with the broth.) Keep the broth simmering over the heat.

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The greens make an intensely green puree.

Now scoop the greens out of the ice bath and put them in a blender or food processor. Add a little cold water,  just a tablespoon or so, and puree the greens. I left mine just a little chunky, but the smoothness of the puree is up to you.

In a large saucepan or skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped white garlic bulbs and sauté, adding a touch of salt while stirring. Once the garlic is just tender, add the rice and stir for a few minutes.

Stir in the wine until it is absorbed by the rice. Turn the heat up to medium-high and begin adding the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until it is absorbed before adding more. Continue this process until the rice is cooked al dente (be sure to test it); you may not use all the broth.

Stir in the greens puree and the butter. Taste for seasoning and add salt and black pepper to taste. Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the Parmesan.

Serve in bowls, garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and more Parmesan.

















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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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