Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pasta with Shrimp and Green Garlic

All my life I have lived in a house with a garden. I never really thought about it much as a kid. Half our backyard was dedicated to growing food. Giant towering trellises of squash, dozens of tomato plants, row upon row of green and yellow and red. I remember pulling rhubarb out of the ground, rinsing it with the hose, dousing it with sugar and happily munching away. When I close my eyes I can still see my grandfather, bent in half, bald head glistening in the sun, just weedin’ and pickin’ away. He was always in the garden. Maybe that’s where my love of gardening came from? It certainly did not come from my Mom or Grandma. There are not, how should I say this, the “outdoor” type. I have never in my life seen my mother do any kind of physical outdoor activity. No mowing or weeding, or even getting her hands dirty for that matter. She’s much better suited for the kitchen, where she usually is. I love to work outside in the yard. I love getting my hands dirty, I love to plant, I love to dig, and mostly I love to harvest. There is something so satisfying about eating food that you grew yourself. I wish everyone could find a little space and grow something good to eat. It’s a wonderful thing. Tonight I picked my first batch of lettuce. It was so sweet and tender it barely needed any dressing.


When I moved into my house I didn’t have a garden for the first 4 years. I was too busy setting up a new house and just didn’t have time for one. When I finally finished on the inside, I moved on to the outside and a new garden was born. It has transformed over the years, gotten bigger and hosted a wider variety of veggies too. Next year I am going to work on expanding my herb garden and build some raised beds. I also want to plant some garlic, something my Uncle Luciano and Dad always grew. One of my friends at work brought me some green garlic. “Perfect timing,” I told him as he handed it to me this morning. “We are having pasta and shrimp for dinner”.


What is green garlic you ask? Well it’s not the garlic clove that is green (mold is the great enemy garlic as any grower can testify). Rather green garlic, which is also called spring baby garlic, is the fresh shoot of the immature garlic plant. When I opened the bag the scent almost knocked me out. I had it in my office and had to move it to a closed file room because I was getting complaints from people. I have to admit, it’s pungent, it actually made my eyes water a bit, but surprisingly it was not overpowering when cooked. It took on a really creamy onioney (yeah I know that's not a real word) garlicky flavor. I liked it a lot. Another reason to plant some this fall.


Yesterday it was a sweltering 97 degrees and with the humidity here it felt like 105. It was bad. There was no way I was even going to heat up the stove to boil water. Today the weather dropped 10 degrees and there is a cool breeze making it much more bearable, so Pasta with shrimp (and green garlic) was back on the menu.

I don't really have a recipe for this. I just cooked the green garlic in some olive oil, added in a tiny bit of bread crumbs, threw some fresh shrimp in a the very end and tossed it with some fresh parsley and basil, then sprinkled on some cheese. Fast and east weeknight supper. The next few days will be filled with preparation for Jesse's birthday party on Saturday, so we will be busy here. This just might be the last hot meal they see until then!
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