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how to take advantage of immature garlic in the kitchen at the best moment of its season

25 mayo, 2021

The seasonal products that have been filling the market since March show that green is one of the predominant colors of the newly released spring. Besides asparagus, beans or peas, it is also time to young garlic or garlic, a vegetable that begins to be harvested towards the end of winter and that we can enjoy until the gates of summer.

The ajete is nothing more than the immature garlic, the silver harvested before it develops the underground bulb that would produce the characteristic teeth. Due to its shape, it can be confused with spring onion or green onion, although its flavor is completely different.

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What are young garlic?

As we say, those popularly known as garlic are common garlic that has been harvested before fully ripening. It grows best in low temperatures, so the harvest begins towards the end of February, with March and April as the best months to enjoy them under normal conditions. Irregular winters with too warm weeks, as has happened this year, can negatively affect its development and flavor.

Garlic

In theory, it is enough to collect the plant before it begins to develop the bulb, but the regions dedicated to its production cultivate it in a specific way, adapting the process to obtain the best results from the vegetable. In Spain highlights the tender garlic –I’ll have there– from Játiva, which has a quality certificate from the Valencian Community, and expects to receive the Denomination of Origin soon.

The garlic is thin and long, bright green in color that darkens and hardens towards the upper end, and is whitish or, occasionally, purple in the area near the root. Sometimes it is allowed to grow until it develops a lower protrusion similar to a young onion bulb, but without actually setting the teeth.

Garlic Garlic

They share the same nutritional properties as garlic, somewhat less concentrated since it has not fully matured and also contains much more water. It is low in calories and rich in sulfur compounds, which help to improve blood circulation, has antibacterial action thanks to allicin and also provides antioxidant minerals and vitamins.

Garlics allow you to enjoy the flavor and aroma of garlic but in a softer and less aggressive versionIt is sweeter and does not repeat itself as much, therefore being perfect for those who suffer from delicate digestions with raw garlic.

How to take advantage of them in the kitchen

The usual thing is to find the garlic in bunches joined by ribbons or small strings, although they are also sold packaged in trays. When harvested, they are washed in the same field to remove excess soil and other impurities, but they must be thoroughly washed again at home.

Garlic

It is convenient to cut the end of the roots and the most fibrous upper part, leaving the stem more tender than is usually remove one or two layers external. Garlics could be eaten raw, for example to make a pesto, although they can be too strong and somewhat indigestible for more delicate stomachs.

They can be cooked as calçots, whole directly on hot coals, on a grill or on the grill, also in the oven, trying to maintain a soft temperature to leave them very tender inside, to finish browning them well on the outside, letting them caramelize with their natural sugars. So braised they are an excellent garnish for meats or a delicious snack on its own, with a little bread and some sauce or dressing.

Ajete

The most traditional thing in our kitchen is to use them in scrambled eggs and tortillas, more or less chopped and sautéed before incorporating the egg. They become a fantastic dish if we also add some seasonal mushrooms, prawns or good chopped ham. It is also a great substitute for Asian chives in stir-fries and woks with meat, fish or tofu, and more vegetables.

And of course, we cannot forget the fantastic rice dishes which are made by adding young garlic when they are in season, very traditional throughout the Valencian Community and also in the Region of Murcia. Whether it is paella type, with the driest grain, baked or leaving a honeyed point, the garlic sprouts provide an extra exquisite flavor.

Recipes with tender garlic

Creamy rice with ribs and tender garlic

Garlic Rice

We make a broth cooking the chicken carcasses with some vegetables, 30 minutes in the pressure cooker with plenty of water, and strain. Or we use ready-made broth. We will need approximately 1250-1500 ml.

In a paella, brown the minced garlic and fry the onion. Add the garlic, sauté and brown the ribs well. Sprinkle with the paprika. Add the rice and saffron, stir well and add the broth. The right proportion it is between five and six times the amount of rice.

Finally, we just have to wait for the rice to be done for 17 to 19 minutes, depending on doneness that we like the most. Once the time has elapsed, we turn off and we let the rice rest for five or ten minutes covered with a cloth.

Rice

More information in the full recipe.

Tagliatelle with mushroom, garlic and black garlic sauce

Noodles with garlic
  • Ingredients for 4 people. 350 g of noodles, 250 g of sliced ​​or sliced ​​mushrooms, 100 g of thinly sliced ​​garlic, 2 cloves of minced black garlic, 250 ml of liquid cooking cream, 120 ml of white wine, thyme, rosemary, black pepper, salt, extra virgin olive oil.
  • Elaboration. Heat a little olive oil in a pan or casserole and brown the seasoned mushrooms over high heat until they turn color. Cook the pasta in plenty of salty water following the manufacturer’s instructions to leave it al dente. Save the cooking water once it has been drained. Add rosemary and thyme to taste, the black garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 6-8 minutes. Add a splash of white wine, let the alcohol evaporate and cover with a glass of the cooking water for the pasta. When it has reduced, add the cream and stir well. Lower the heat and let it reduce for 3-4 minutes.

More information in the full recipe.

Teriyaki chicken and garlic skewer

Chicken and garlic skewers
  • Ingredients. 2 chicken breasts (or 1 breast and 2 chicken thighs), 5 garlic cloves, teriyaki sauce for glaze.
  • Elaboration. We leave the skewer sticks to soak if we use them made of wood. We cut the chicken into small pieces. We wash and cut the garlic into pieces in one bite. We thread two pieces of chicken and three pieces of garlic and so on on the drained skewers. On a grill, griddle or frying pan we make the skewers for about 5 minutes, changing sides from time to time. We take out and glaze with teriyaki sauce, return to the heat for a couple of minutes and return to glaze off the fire, repeat one more time and serve.

More information in the full recipe.

Cheese and garlic baskets

Garlic baskets
  • Ingredients. 12 medium tartlets or puff pastry volcanoes, 1 egg, 100 ml of cream, 30 g of red cheddar, 30 g of gouda, 4 garlic sprouts and salt.
  • Elaboration. Mix the cream with the lightly beaten egg. Add the chopped garlic, the chopped cheese and mix. Fill the tartlets and bake at 180ºC for 15 minutes.

More information in the full recipe.

Scrambled eggs with garlic and gulas

Scrambled Garlic
  • Ingredients. 5 eggs, 300 g of garlic, 1 shallot, 250 g of baby eels, olive oil and salt.
  • Elaboration. Finely chop the shallot and poach it in a frying pan with a splash of oil. Add the garlic sprouts and cook over medium heat until tender. Add the gulas and stir until they are hot. We beat the eggs lightly and salt, it only takes the yolks to break, so we can enjoy a purer egg flavor. We put the egg in the pan and lower the heat, stirring constantly, until the egg set slightly but without losing its almost liquid texture.

More information in the full recipe.

Photos | iStock – Finca La Castilla – Simon Huntley – Javier Lastras
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