By Michael Natkin, Jewish Sound Columnist
Green garlic is one of those wonderful farmer’s market ingredients. You don’t often see it at grocery stores, but it’s at every market in the early summer months, where it overlaps with last year’s storage potatoes. Green garlic is simply the shoot of an immature garlic plant. The kind I like to buy looks like oversized scallions, and it can be used in similar ways. The flavor, however, is distinctly of garlic, not onion.
To prepare green garlic, you want to cut off the frizzly roots and the tough, dark green tops. Then peel off the tough outermost leaf, and you should be left with a sizable, relatively tender length of white and pale green shoot.
For this salad, the green garlic is briefly sautéed to soften. I add a couple of minced garlic cloves to the dressing, though, to make sure the garlic flavor is distinct. I originally was going to do this dressing as a plain vinaigrette, but then I found that just a little bit of mayonnaise (or Vegenaise, which is quite tasty) brought out a better texture and flavor. The final addition of mint brightens things up, but you could also use fresh oregano or marjoram, if they are on hand.
If you have time, make the dressing in advance and allow the flavors to meld before giving them a final adjustment and mixing with the cooled potatoes.
This recipe makes enough to bring to a big potluck, but you can easily cut it in half for a smaller gathering.
Green Garlic and Mint Potato Salad
Vegetarian, vegan option, gluten free and kosher
Makes enough to bring to a potluck (easily halved)
5 lb. small, waxy potatoes
8 stems green garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves minced garlic cloves
3 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1/4 cup mayonnaise or vegan mayonnaise
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs. Maldon salt (less if using kosher salt)
1/2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
Handful of mint leaves
Wash the potatoes and put them in a large pot full of cold, salted water. Bring to a boil and continue to cook until they are fully tender but not falling apart (time greatly depends on size and variety). Drain, rinse, cool, and cut into bite-sized pieces.
Meanwhile, remove the tough parts of the green garlic including the outermost leaves, just like you would with a scallion. Slice thinly. Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup of the olive oil and sauté the green garlic just for about 1 minute, until it’s slightly softened.
Put the green garlic and olive oil into a small bowl. Add the remaining olive oil, minced garlic, vinegar, mayonnaise, black pepper, salt, rosemary, cayenne and black pepper. Stir well. Dip a piece of potato in and taste. Does it have enough salt? Is the garlic flavor present enough? Could it use a bit more cayenne? When you are satisfied, toss the dressing with the potatoes. This is easiest to do with your hands.
Just before serving, thinly slice the mint and mix it into the potatoes.
Local food writer and chef Michael Natkin’s cookbook “Herbivoracious, A Flavor Revolution with 150 Vibrant and Original Vegetarian Recipes,” was a finalist in 2013 for a James Beard award. The recipes are based on his food blog, herbivoracious.com.