Green garlic (a.k.a spring garlic) is the young version of garlic, harvested before it divides itself into separate cloves. It has a softer, slightly less intense garlic flavor and can be used anywhere regular garlic would be used. With fresh asparagus in season, the two go hand in hand in this easy and healthy recipe. Adding the optional shrimp ups the protein count, and crispy breadcrumbs add some extra crunch and texture.
Green Garlic and Asparagus Pasta
1 pound asparagus
2 ounces green garlic
6 to 8 ounces pasta (any shaped pasta or even spaghetti)
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
1 cup Panko (or other coarse) breadcrumbs
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Optional: 16-24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Freshly ground black pepper
Optional: fresh chopped herbs (basil, parsley, tarragon)
Remove the thick, woody ends from the asparagus and snap the stalks into two-inch pieces. Trim the roots off the garlic and thinly slice the white parts; slice the green parts a little thicker.
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the asparagus pieces to the boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes; use a slotted spoon to transfer stalks to a bowl of ice water. When cooled, strain and set aside.
Return water to a boil and add the pasta; cooking as per package instructions until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve about ¼ cup of the cooking water.
Heat 3 T of the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and crispy, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool. Once cooled, stir in 2 T of the grated cheese and a pinch of salt; set aside.
Use a paper towel to wipe the pan clean (any remaining breadcrumbs will burn) and add the remaining 2 T of oil. Add the green garlic and two pinches (about a scant ½ teaspoon) of kosher salt. Stir and cover, cooking until garlic begins to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes, and then add the asparagus. Cook, stirring frequently, another 2 to 3 minutes.
If using shrimp (optional), slide the garlic and asparagus to the edges of the pan and add a drizzle of oil, if needed. Place the shrimp in a single layer in the middle of the pan and cook until mostly pink, then turn to finish cooking the other side.
Reduce heat to low and add the drained pasta. Toss well to combine, adding a little pasta water if needed to keep moist. Taste, season with salt and pepper as needed, and drizzle with olive oil.
Serve in pasta bowls; top with the breadcrumbs, grated parmesan and (optional) freshly chopped herbs.
Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking.
Step by Step Details
Slice the garlic, leaving the green parts a little longer than the white parts.
A super easy way to “cut” asparagus is to just gently bend the stalk and allow it to snap at its natural snap point. This technique works for just about any size piece. No knives required!
Blanch the asparagus to precook it a bit and to help retain its bright green color. Cool in a bowl of ice water to stop further cooking and lock in that color.
To save time, make the breadcrumbs ahead of time and store in a resealable bag. Keep a close eye on them, as they can quickly go from golden brown to burned. And don’t add the cheese until the breadcrumbs are cooled, or it will melt into a sticky, cheesy, crumbly mess. It will taste great, but you might lose a few points on presentation.
Soften the garlic and add asparagus.
I love this dish with shrimp: make some room in the middle of the pan and cook on one side until mostly pink, then turn to finish cooking the other side.
Toss in the pasta, adding a little pasta water if needed to keep moist. I used a shaped pasta called torchio, but any shape will do. Or even regular spaghetti. Whatever you have on hand that you like.
Serve in large pasta bowls; top with the breadcrumbs, grated parmesan and freshly chopped herbs (optional).