Spring is when green garlic appears at the market. These fragrant green shoots with tiny young bulbs resemble large green onions or baby leeks, and combined with green onions, they make for a delicate and aromatic stew. If you cannot find green garlic at your market, you can use garlic cloves. With the slow cooking, the cloves will become mild and creamy. I recommend braising this dish in the oven for even cooking and to eliminate worries about scorching, but if oven space is tight, the stove top will do. This stew was a great favorite at Passover at my restaurant, Square One, and it is usually the centerpiece of my family Seder. Serve with rice or roast potatoes.
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Serves 6 to 8
Olive oil for browning and sautéing
3 to 4 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1 ½-to 2-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup meat broth or water, or as needed
¼ cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Maras or Aleppo pepper flakes, or more to taste
1 pound green garlic stalks, or 2 small heads garlic
2 pounds green onions (about 6 large bunches)
2 pounds fresh fava beans, shelled, blanched, and peeled (optional)
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice (optional)
Chopped fresh mint or flat-leaf parsley for garnish
1) If oven braising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2) Film a large, heavy sauté pan with oil and warm over high heat. Season the lamb with salt and pepper. In batches, add the lamb to the pan and brown well on all sides. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the lamb to a stew pot.
3) Pour off the excess fat from the sauté pan, add a little of the broth, and deglaze the pan over high heat, stirring to dislodge any brown bits from the pan bottom. Add the pan juices to the stew pot. Combine the tomato paste and vinegar with the remaining broth, stir well, and add to the lamb. The liquid should just cover the lamb; add more if needed. Add the Maras pepper and a sprinkle of salt and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Turn down the heat to low, cover, and simmer on the stove top until the lamb is almost tender, about 1 hour. Alternatively, bring to a simmer, cover, and place in the oven for 50 to 60 minutes.
4) Meanwhile, prepare the green garlic (or garlic) and the green onions. Cut off the root end of the green garlic stalks and slice the stalks into 2-inch lengths, using all of the green. (Or, separate the cloves of the garlic heads and peel the cloves.) Cut off the roots of the green onions, then cut the green onions, including the green tops, into 2-inch lengths. Bring a saucepan filled with salted water to a boil, add the green garlic (or garlic cloves) and green onions, blanch for 2 minutes, drain well, and pat dry.
5) Warm a few tablespoons oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the green garlic and green onions and sauté them in batches until they take on a bit of color, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and reserve.
6) After the lamb has been cooking for 1 hour, add the green garlic (or blanched garlic cloves) and green onions, re-cover, and continue to simmer until the lamb is tender, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Add the favas during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the lemon juice to brighten the flavors, then spoon into a deep platter, garnish with mint, and serve.
Recipe reprinted from “The New Mediterranean Jewish Table: Old Recipes for the Modern Home” by Joyce Goldstein with permission from University of California Press.