It's an odd year. Normally, green garlic doesn't show up in Orange County's farmers' markets until March. This year, the tables have been growing with the tender, green shoots since Punxsutawney Phil prognosticated pleasant weather.
The simplest, best recipe for green garlic is a simple stir-fry, based on a recipe by Fuchsia Dunlop in her excellent book on Sichuan cookery, Land of Plenty. Her recipe calls for flowering chives but makes a mention of garlic stems. This is simple, fast and surprisingly floral–plus, it contains garlic and bacon. What more could you possibly ask for?
6 stems green garlic, picked before the cloves have separated
2 oz. slab bacon (normal bacon is an acceptable substitute)
1 tsp. cooking oil (peanut, canola, soybean, non-extra-virgin olive)
1. Trim the garlic of its floppy leaves and cut, roots and stems both, on a steep bias into oval shapes about 1/4-inch wide.
2. Cut the bacon into lardons, pieces about 1/4 inch by 1/4 inch by 1 inch. Don't take out a ruler; just wing it.
3. Heat a pan (not a nonstick one) over the hottest heat your stove can muster.
4. Swirl in the cooking oil, then the bacon. Toss constantly to keep the bacon from burning.
5. When the bacon is partway cooked, toss in the garlic and cook until the whites just begin to color.
6. Serve immediately.
Don't double the recipe; make two recipes individually, or the pan will get too cold. Not green garlic season? Do this with scallions, though it will have a sharper flavor.