Garlic, onions and shallots, oh my!

Shallot and garlic shoots in a garden

Shallot and garlic shoots at Avocasa gardens

Spring comes early here in Texas, and for months now, even during the end of our winter, I’ve been harvesting and cooking with shoots. There are varieties of wild onion in many parts of the world, including this one here in Texas and the plants come up all through my back yard both wild and in places we cultivated them last year after collecting their seeds. The onions they form are tiny but pungent and almost the whole plant is edible. In addition, I’ve planted shallots and garlic in their own bed and the spaces in cinder blocks. The green shoots of all these plants, as well as the baby onions and bulbs themselves, are all delicious in your cooking.

As warm as it’s become in Texas, it’s still a while until we have a lot of basil. Even so, our fridge always has delicious home made pesto. Here’s a simple recipe, but you essentially substitute tasty Allium greens for basil and leave out the extra garlic:

  • About 2 cups of onion, garlic, or shallot shoots
  • 1/3 cup almonds or walnuts
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or other hard cheese
  • 2/3 cup olive oil

Chop the shoots a little little so they don’t tangle in your food processor, then blend them with the nuts. After everything is broken down, blend in the olive oil and Parmesan.

Depending on the texture of the pesto you’d like, add a little less oil or leave the pieces of nuts and onion a little bigger; I like my pesto a bit ‘rough’ in texture versus the perfectly blended, mass-produced pestos you buy in the store. You can mix it with pasta, or just spread it on a piece of toast.

Kit with a big spoonful of onion pesto.

Yeah, it's that good.

You can harvest the shoots and they’ll grow back again and again until it’s time to harvest the bulbs. There’s so much of these green onions and shoots we’ve been trading them with other gardeners and freezing them. After being chopped in the processor they go into the freezer and become delicious cubes of flavor for future sauces and soups. We’ve got four ice cube trays full.

Here’s a simple recipe for white bean hummus with shoots:

  • 1 can of cannellini or great northern beans, or equivalent cooked dried beans
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • a generous amount of chopped garlic or shallot shoots or wild green onions, about 1/2 – 1 cup
  • salt & pepper to taste

In a food processor, chop up the beans a little, then blend in your shoots, seasonings, tahini, and lemon juice, then pour in the olive oil while the food processor is running. Blend until it looks delicious.

Enjoy!

Wild onions on a cutting board

Freshly harvested wild onions in the kitchen, with the bulbs separated from the greens.

Onion photos by Kit O’Connell, all rights reserved. Portrait of Kit by Dana Sayre, all rights reserved.