When garlic bites back

March 31st, 2014

Take heart, all my friends in north and snowy places:  spring is just around the corner!  Signs are in the air – and in the market…. early rosy radishes, a few bundles of white asparagus, and little sprouts shooting out of onions and garlic.  It’s still too soon for aillet – the first long-bladed thinnings of the new garlic crop – with a much more mild, tender flavor than the sprouting cloves of March.  So, what to do while awaiting aillet?  Tipping out the green sprout with a knife-tip doesn’t take all of the bite out of a garlic clove.   An immediate stinging hits the edges of one’s tongue when biting into a salad with fresh garlic chopped into the vinaigrette.  Clearly, March isn’t the best time to whip up a pesto when garlic bites back!
But garlic is still in the vagabond’s basket, ready to bake with a roast chicken or to stir into a savory ragu.  It’s a part of the waiting game.  Soon the milder, white aillet will delight all garlic afficianados, followed in June  by juicy bulbs to be  savored before their dried sheathing forms. But for now, maybe just rubbing a cut clove inside the wooden bowl will be the closest we can get to a whisper of garlic in a spring supper salad.

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