At first I didn’t think Sulmona’s Red Garlic zolla and talli d’aglio were one and the same thing, but then I’ve only had these garlic flower stalks in Abruzzo (also know in English as garlic ‘scapes’) preserved, where you just add them with some potatoes for the ultimate roasties.
Fresh talli d’aglio look to be something that resembles a long skinny spring onion with woody multi-kneed joints and I must admit peering at a bundle for the first time in my life and asking our ever-patient veggie girls the question of “what are those?” as they didn’t resemble anything I’d seen previously in Italy or farmers markets back in the UK…
Chopped off the bulb originally by farmers in the last weeks of June to encourage further growth in the bulb itself the main crop, they have become quite a local delicacy as well as enjoying the status of a nice little side earner for those on the chop so to speak. They taste almost as if they are warming you up for the pungency from the cloves later in the year, but are now happy to create a balanced coupling of early soft summer crops and flavours.
It’s one of those things that, even searching in Italian, don’t seem to feature heavily, which is a shame as we’ve popped them into everything gloriously over the last 2 week. I did read a forum posting about how they were called locally somewhere ‘ombelichi dell’aglio’ (garlic umbilicals) which drove me to close the browser rather than search more!
With a texture more akin to a crunchy spring onion, their soft verdant garlic tale works fantastically with green beans, drizzles of peperoncini oil and some chopped mint. . We tried the girls’ suggestion, blanched and added into a frittata that made divine panino on the crusty bread for brunch. Blanched again and adding into salad with feta cheese and lemon was wonderful as was adding the blanched stalks onto pizza bianca with a little rosemary and olive oil for a textural, happy green valley version of garlic bread. One recipe I want to try is KitchenbloodyKitchen’s Rice with Tollo Garlic , Cumin & Lemon which sounds more Northern African so I shouldn’t strictly be adding it here but oooh what a summer treat.