The young shoots of garlic, commonly called green garlic, are easy to turn into a flavorful spring "pesto" sauce in which the green garlic takes the place of basil, for a similarly easy-to-make pasta sauce with a decidedly garlicky, bright spring flavor.
Use this pesto on pasta, as pictured, as a spread on sandwiches, as a dip with spring crudités, or as a luscious sauce for chicken or fish. If you have a lot of green garlic on hand, know that this pesto keeps very well, covered and chilled up to 3 days or frozen up to 2 months—so go ahead, make a big batch, and freeze some for later in the year!
- Trim and discard the root ends of the green garlic. Finely chop the green garlic, rinse it thoroughly under cool running water in a colander and pat or spin it dry (I find chopping and then cleaning gets all the dirt out of the picture; if it's been a rainy spring, the dirt has a way of getting splattered in between the layers of the green garlic leaves).
- In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, cook the vegetable oil, green garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt until the green garlic is soft, about 3 minutes. Let it cool to warm room temperature.
- In a blender or food processor, pulse the pine nuts or pistachios to chop. Set them aside in a bowl. Put the cooked green garlic in and pulse it, scraping down the sides as necessary, until it is bright green and smooth. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Pulse in the reserved nuts and cheese. Taste the mixture and add more salt, if you like.
Note that this recipe makes enough to coat 1 pound linguine (coated as pictured).
Love green garlic, but not feeling the pesto magic? Consider making Green Garlic Hummus, for lots of garlic flavor as a dip or spread, or pile on the flavor in this Green Garlic Soup. Keep things simple and mince the green garlic to use raw on crostini or cooked into garlic bread.
I'm also a fan of lightly cooking the green garlic whole and dressing it in a simple vinaigrette, for a fun and garlicky twist on the classic French leeks vinaigrette.