Young green garlic, made up of immature shoots that haven’t yet even formed cloves, appears in the New York greenmarkets around May. It looks like thick scallions and has a sweet, mild garlicky taste, with no bitterness. It can be chopped just like scallions and cooked or added raw to salad or sauces.
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 shallots, thinly sliced
2 green garlic shoots, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 pounds mussels, soaked in cool water and debearded if necessary (with cultivated mussels this is not usually necessary, but wild ones can be a little hairy; unless you get mussels from a fisherman, they’re most likely cultivated)
1 heaping tablespoon mascarpone
A large handful of spring herbs, stemmed but very lightly chopped so they retain all their flavor (a mix of parsley, chives, mint, chervil, and tarragon is a good choice, but add whatever you can get, concentrating on gentle, leafy herbs and avoiding strong, spiky flavors like rosemary or savory)
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt, if needed
Look over the mussels, throwing out any that don’t close tightly when you tap on them (meaning they’re dead). Choose a very large pot (a big pasta pot is a good choice), or two smaller pots. Over medium heat, add about 1/3 cup of olive oil to the pot. Add the shallots and the garlic and sauté until they give off fragrance, about a minute. Drain the mussels and add them, along with the white wine. Cook, uncovered, stirring the mussels around occasionally until they have opened. This should take only about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the mascarpone, a few grindings of black pepper, and all the herbs. Give it all a good mixing. Taste the broth for saltiness, adding a bit of salt if necessary.
Serve in large bowls, giving each person a good amount of broth. Italian bread is pretty much essential, so you can sop up all the juices.