Savory Quickbread: Green Garlic & Two Cheeses
Now, I know what you're thinking. "Savory quickbread?! Whaaa? Quickbreads should be sweet and coffee-break-ish, with things like apple, pumpkin, and bananas. Go back to your Cave of Crazy!", and really, I don't blame you altogether. But let me put it to you this way: sweet quickbreads are indeed great with coffee, but SAVORY quickbreads are perfect with booze.
I rest my case.
In addition to enjoying this golden, buttery, savory bread with a lovely glass of something, it's also awesome as a side to meals of all sorts. Alongside a soup or salad lunch? Divine! As a replacement for potatoes or rice or somesuch with meat or seafood? Yes! Just swap out the tasty add-ins to compliment whatever dish you're serving it with. Think of it as a cousin of cornbread. Or a savory biscuit, but totally simplified because there's no need to portion the batter. Also, making it in a loaf pan means you can have plenty of butter, eggs and buttermilk in the mix, which make for an irresistibly tender and moist, almost custard-y, interior. In fact, the extra moisture is what makes this bread charmingly schlumpy--don't be alarmed when it sinks a bit as it cools. God, I love this stuff.
I first started tooling around with the idea of a savory baked morsel earlier this week, when I came into a glorious little bunch of green garlic. Ordinarily, I might find green garlic to be very Chez Panisse and Obsessive Foodie in quality, like ramps or dandelion greens or who knows what, fleeting produce that's only available for a short time each year. In a place like San Francisco, where Obsessive Foodies run amok, it can be hard to get your hands on something like green garlic, because it gets snatched up in a matter of weeks, by hungry hands anticipating its fresh, mild garlic flavor that sings of Springtime.
So apparently I was feeling the O.F. bug myself the other day when I found green garlic, pounced on it without a second thought, and then got home and said to no one in particular, "What the heck am I gonna do with green garlic?!". I'm sure Alice Waters would have had, like, 500 answers for me. But I only had one: savory quickbread.
The best part about this recipe it's a one-bowl deal--easy, easy, friends. Also, I love that this formula is endlessly riffable. It doesn't have to be green garlic (shallot or chives or scallions, oh my!), and Manchego and Percorino just happened to be rattling around in my fridge, but of course it could be Parmesan, blue cheeses, sharp cheddar, Gruyere and fresh herbs--this stuff can become whatever your little heart desires. But whatever pairing you come up with, please do the right thing and have yourself a nice cocktail with it. That's all I ask of you.
Savory Quickbread with Green Garlic and Two Cheeses
Makes 1 9x5-inch loaf
When prepping the green garlic, peel off the outermost layer of the bulb and trim off the root end. Use just the white and tender light green parts--usually about 2 or 3 inches above where the white part ends. Make sure to wash the green garlic well. It tends to trap dirt in its layers, like leeks.
The easiest year-round swap for green garlic would probably be scallions (green onions), with a small minced garlic clove added.
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped green garlic (about 4 bulbs, depending on size), or minced shallots, chives, or scallions
1/2 cup grated Manchego cheese
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
Position a rack to the lower third of the oven, and preheat it to 350°F. Lightly spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Lightly spray the parchment, too.
In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk until almost blended. Add the green garlic and 3/4 cup of the cheeses. Use a flexible spatula to gently fold the batter until evenly mixed--the batter will be quite thick. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Top the batter with the remaining 1/4 cup of the cheese.
Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes before removing the bread to the rack to cool completely.