While visiting my local produce stand this week, the owner stopped me and asked if I would like to try some Garlic Spears. I had never heard of them, but being the garlic lover that I am, I was stoked to try something new. They were delicious! They had a mild garlic flavor, a slightly crunchy texture, and appeared to be easy enough to prepare, so I quickly picked some up to experiment with in my own kitchen.
What is a Garlic Spear?
Garlic spears are the flowering tops from elephant garlic, a subspecies of leeks that has a light garlic flavor. Garlic spears are grown in mild climates and are harvested in the late spring. The garlic spear appears to be similar to many vegetables, as I have seen it compared to asparagus, artichoke, leek, garlic, and scallions. If eaten raw, it has a strong peppery garlic taste, but when cooked the flavor is considerably milder.
When doing a quick search online for recipes using garlic spears, I came across stir-fries, pestos, soups, and simply roasting or grilling with olive oil and S&P. You can find garlic spears at local farmers markets, Asian grocers, and produce stands, typically during late spring and (in some areas) early summer.
The actual flowery bulb of the garlic spear is encased with a stringy soft shell (reminiscent of a corn husk) that I did not find very palatable. Some people eat it; I chose to pull it off and just eat the stalk and bulb.
I decided to take a simple approach and simply roast the garlic spears with a medley of baby red, blue, and yukon gold potatoes.
First things first, preheat your oven to 375. After giving the garlic spears a good rinse, I chopped off the ends and discarded them.
Place garlic spears on baking sheet (with potatoes if you choose to use those). Drizzle with oil (I used organic sunflower oil), and a generous sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. I also sliced a shallot and tossed that in to help flavor the potatoes.
Roast in oven for approximately 45 minutes (stir about halfway through cooking time), more or less depending on how tender or crisp you like your garlic spears.
And there you have it! A beautiful side dish that would be a delicious accompaniment to any entree (we had ours with meatloaf).