It’s not unusual for plants to get left in pots too long for their own good here at The Garden Deli. They might be extra plants potted up in case the ones in the ground didn’t make it through the winter. Or the result of an over enthusiastic sowing session that led to more seedlings than there is space to plant them out. Last autumn I bought too much garlic, and when two raised beds had been planted up, the excess cloves were stuck into pots so that they could at least start growing and be planted out when some space was freed up. Then they got forgotten – not completely forgotten, I passed them often enough and thought that it was about time they were in the ground. But they never did get to stretch out their roots and live free range.
Probably because they couldn’t grow freely, or because the pots were too close together to allow the air to get around the leaves. And maybe partly because the weather has been warm and so wet. Whatever the reason, the leaves became infected with rust. Sick looking plants with yellowing leaves dotted with orange spots… not attractive and best sorted out before the rust spread to the rest of the garlic, and the chives, and the leeks.
When they were tipped out of the post, the garlic plants had grown enough to form small bulbs – not yet divided into individual cloves, each with a papery wrapping, but big enough to be useful. I cut the leaves off, shook the loose soil off the roots and headed to the kitchen with my gourmet ingredient.
And the wet garlic isn’t the only gourmet allium harvest from the garden. The hardneck garlic is just starting to produce flowering stems – scapes. Only a couple so far. These stems are best cut off to encourage the plant to focus on making a good big bulb. But the scapes are another delicious way to enjoy the early garlic. Sweeter and milder than the fully-grown cloves that will be harvested in a few weeks’ time.
The scapes make a perfect partner for some wet garlic, along with a little oil, butter, parsley and Parmesan, to top a pizza base. Saturday night pizza has become something of a feature in our house. The green garlic topping will be a fleeting seasonal treat, which probably makes it all the more enjoyable. Do you have a favourite limited season meal?
Green garlic pizza
1 pizza base, approximately 12” (30cm) in diameter (use your own favourite recipe… or this one is our favourite)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 garlic scapes, finely chopped
2 wet garlic bulbs, outer skin removed and finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley leaf, finely chopped
a good pinch of fine sea salt
4 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan, or vegetarian alternative
Preheat the oven to 200oC, 400F, gas 6. If you have a pizza stone or tin, put it in the oven to heat as the oven warms.
Put the rolled out pizza base onto a piece of baking parchment.
Heat the oil and butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the garlic scapes, wet garlic and parsley to the pan, stir and warm through for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and add salt to taste.
When the oven is warm, spread the garlicky oil over the pizza base. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top.
Slide the pizza on its piece of baking parchment onto the hot pizza stone or tin and bake for 12-15 minutes. When the crust is just turning a golden brown, take the pizza from the oven. Let it cool for a couple of minutes before cutting into 8 slices and sharing with friends and family.