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Enjoy young garlic during its springtime appearance

Recipe: Green garlic risotto is full of color and flavor

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

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 -- 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.

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.

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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Dec. 3:

Make the most of gaps between raindrops. This is a busy month!

* Windy conditions brought down a lot of leaves. Make sure to rake them away from storm drains.

* Use those leaves as mulch around frost-tender shrubs and new transplants.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they're dormant.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* Plant one last round of spring bulbs including daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas. Get those tulips out of the refrigerator and into the ground.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers such as California poppies.

* Plant such spring bloomers as sweet pea, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Late fall is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from fall and winter rains.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

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