Give me all the bows

They are the basic building blocks of any dish, and spring markets are awash with them.

The beauty of spring bulbs – we’re talking green garlic, garlic onions, chives, baby leeks, green onions and (swoon!) stingrays – lies in their versatility. Not as spicy as their adult family members (look at you yellow and red onions!), they can be used in abundance to add depth to any recipe. They have a more vegetal, less lethal look, and are simply gorgeous. Admittedly, I go a little over the top buying them every spring, but cooking with them is healthy.

Abundance of spring bulbs. Credit: Julie Chernoff

The key to keeping these beauties is to keep them cool and dry. Try wrapping them in a dry towel, putting them in an airtight plastic bag, and storing them in the refrigerator to keep them from forming slime, as the delicate greens can become slimy after a few days. Another plus is that almost all of them are edible. With green garlic, you can use the entire bulb and stem. Not only are the flowers of chives beautiful, but they also make a great garnish on a salad or other dish as a delicious side dish. Don’t be afraid to use the greens of young leeks, as they haven’t yet become woody, as is the case with larger, older leeks. Chop, sauté, marinate, whatever. The world is your bulb!


I recently interviewed six famous Chicago chefs, and almost all of them named humble ramp as their favorite spring ingredient. But hurry up because they won’t be on the market for long.

Make ramp pesto. Separate the leaves from the ramp bulbs and blanch the leaves in salted water, rinse with cold water and pat dry; Pulse in a food processor with green garlic, toasted pine nuts, a few handfuls of baby spinach, pecorino cheese, salt and pepper to taste, then add olive oil to thin the pasta to your desired consistency. Stir in the pasta and a little water that the pasta was cooked in.

Light up the lights quickly. Trim the roots and wash the bulbs well (stems and leaves removed), taking care to remove any slimy layers. Place vertically in a clean Mason jar, bulb side down. Heat 1 cup each of white wine or apple cider vinegar, water, and sugar in a saucepan, along with 2 tablespoons of kosher salt, one or two bay leaves, a few black peppercorns, and a small tablespoon of pickling spices, until the sugar and salt dissolve and the mixture thickens. will dissolve. boiled. Remove from heat and pour the hot liquid over the ramps to cover, leaving some room at the top. Screw on the lid and set it on the table to come to room temperature, then refrigerate. Give it a few days before using, then start grinding it up and adding it to salads, pasta, pizza and more.

green garlic

Of course, I am a fanatic of garlic, but I just love this spring vegetable. Much milder and brighter tasting than fully ripe garlic bulbs, you can use a lot more than you think and still appreciate the subtle flavor.

Make your favorite Alice Water pasta dish.

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