Enjoy Spring With Green Garlic

Sunrise Senior Living  |  June 1, 2012

With the summer season comes new crops, meaning you'll be seeing an abundance of fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables at the grocery store and your local farmer's market in the coming months. While summer is known as garlic season, green garlic is picked a few weeks earlier, meaning the time is now to enjoy this savory food.

FitSugar reports that green garlic looks like a large scallion, and is only available for a few weeks. Seniors may want to take advantage of this short time-frame, as green garlic carries numerous health benefits, including allicin, which helps the body prevent infections, and protein ferroportin, which helps keep iron levels up.

You may be racking your brain trying to figure out how you can use green garlic. Turns out, there are a lot of options. The New York Times recently discussed the benefits of green garlic, and offered a few recipe ideas for those who are inclined to try the herb.

The news provider gave an Asian kick to this healthy dish, also choosing to incorporate spinach, which is currently in season as well. If you're unable to find soba noodles, the news provider recommends substituting brown rice.

Soba with Green Garlic, Spinach, Edamame and Crispy Tofu

Serves: 4 to 6

1/2 pound firm tofu, cut in dominoes
2 bulbs green garlic, trimmed of stalk
3/4 cup fresh or frozen edamame
1 tablespoon rice bran oil, grapeseed oil or canola oil
Soy sauce to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
6 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems cut away, sliced
2 generous bunches (about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds) spinach, stems trimmed, washed in 2 changes of water
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 pound soba noodles

Blot the tofu dry on paper towels. If the garlic has formed cloves, separate them and remove the thick shells from the tender cloves. If it has not formed cloves, just remove the outside layers and mince.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt to taste and add the edamame. Cook 4 minutes, then remove from the water with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a wok or a wide skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water evaporates upon contact. Swirl in the rice bran, grapeseed or canola oil and add the tofu. Stir-fry until golden brown, and remove from the pan. Season to taste with soy sauce and set aside.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the olive oil and the shiitakes. Cook until they begin to soften, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, and add the green garlic along with a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until it is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until it wilts. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in the tofu and edamame. Turn the heat to low and keep warm while you cook the noodles.

Bring the water to a boil in the large pot, and add the noodles gradually, so that the water remains at a boil. Stir once with a long-handled spoon or pasta fork so that the noodles don’t stick together. Wait for the water to come back up to a rolling boil - it will bubble up, so don’t fill the pot all the way - and add 1 cup of cold water. Allow the water to come back to a rolling boil and add another cup of cold water. Allow the water to come to a boil one more time and add a third cup of water. When the water comes to a boil again, the noodles should be cooked through. Allow them to boil for a few minutes if they are not. Drain in a colander. Place in a large bowl, top with the vegetables and tofu, and serve.