by Peggy Paul Casella
These adolescent stalks are the first signs of green at the market—culled from farmers’ fields to make room for bulbs from remaining garlic and onion plants to swell underground. They are less pungent than their mature counterparts, with zingy, front-of-the-mouth flavors. And their svelte bulbs and leaves add just the right amount of crunch and Allium flavor to all sorts of spring dishes. In April and May, you might notice that the spring garlic and green onions sold at the farmers market have more pronounced bulbs than the first bunches of the season. These will be slightly more intense in flavor but can be used in the same way as their younger counterparts.
Choose stalks that are firm, straight as arrows and brightly colored. To store, wrap the roots with damp paper towels and place the whole bunch in a plastic bag in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer; they will keep this way for about one week.
Uses: Slice thin and add them raw to salads or as a garnish to other dishes. Trim off the roots and roast or grill them whole. Braise them with butter and white wine. Bake them into tarts, quiches, frittatas, pancakes, biscuits and scones. Add them to omelets and scrambles, soups, dumplings, fish and crab cakes, stir fries and pizzas.
Mediterranean Spring Pizza
Makes one 12-inch pizza
- 4 stalks spring garlic, roots and all but 1 inch of the darker green parts trimmed off
- 2 green or spring onions, roots and all but 1 inch of the darker green parts trimmed off
- 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 (14- to 16-ounce) ball pizza dough
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
Place pizza stone/steel (if using) on an oven rack about 8 inches from the broiler. If you plan to use a baking sheet instead, place a rack in the middle of the oven (you do not need to preheat the baking sheet). Preheat the oven to 500 F.
Slice each spring garlic stalk in half lengthwise and separate the layers into long, thin strands. Slice the spring onions in half lengthwise, then slice the halves so they are approximately the same width as the spring garlic strands. In a small bowl, toss together the sun-dried tomatoes and lemon zest.
Place the dough on a floured work surface. Gently stretch or roll the dough into a 12-inch disc. Using a pizza stone or steel: Dust a pizza peel or the back of a baking sheet generously with flour or cornmeal. Place the dough on the prepared peel. Using a baking sheet: Spray the baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the dough on the prepared baking sheet.
Brush the dough lightly with olive oil. Add half the cheese, followed by the sun-dried tomatoes and spring garlic and onions. Drizzle with the cream and sprinkle on the rest of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
If using a pizza stone or steel, increase the oven heat to broil. Slide the pizza from the peel (or inverted baking sheet) to the hot stone/steel and broil for 5 to 7 minutes until the crust is crispy and blistered on top. If using a baking sheet, do not increase the oven to broil. Transfer the pizza to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, until the crust is crispy and blistered on top.
Let cool for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with the mint. Slice and serve.
Peggy Paul Casella is a cookbook editor, writer, urban vegetable gardener, produce peddler and author of the blog Thursday Night Pizza.