Garlic is part of the culinary trinity of Italian cooking. Paired with a soffritto of finely chopped onions, celery, and carrots in a 2:1:1 ratio, it is the foundation of the dishes that define the cuisine of Italy. Slowly sautéed, hence the name soffrito (under-fried), the ingredients soften and release their flavor in an incensual bath of extra virgin olive oil or olive oil and butter if you’re cooking up North. Adding meat, chicken, fish or wild game complete the union and the flavor and aroma of a strong, robust clove of garlic provides a rich and complex note.
But if you’re looking for something more mellow don’t overlook the immature sprout that arrives in spring or early summer. This young, slender, yellow-green flower stalk or garlic scape, picked before it can form its familiar bulb, is known as green garlic and has a creamy, mellow, sweet flavor that can be used like scallions or chives. Green garlic is still garlicky, but with less of a bitter bite.
You can pickle or freeze dry the scapes (like chives), toss them in extra virgin olive oil, season with sea salt, grill and serve the stalks with a grilled steak. Or make a delicious Italian frittata . . .
like this one cooked over an open fire in Umbria.