Monday, June 4, 2012

Curlicues in the Garlic Garden: Simple Garlic Scape Pesto

Love equals garlic scapes.
Summer is rushing in and I am rushing around in the garden. It's already garlic scape season and I am not ready! I'm hurrying to plant the last of the summer seeds I want this year, like more chard, and mulching against the onslaught of weeds and dry weather. While we had a warm winter, a cold, damp spell in the early spring put the kibosh on some of my garden seeds. First time in more than 3 decades of vegetable gardening I had bean seeds rot in the ground. Minor disaster. So to be safe, I waited until much later to get a second batch going. I'll be canning and freezing a lot later into the summer than I'd like, but it can't be helped. At least the garlic, planted last October is behaving nicely. Beautiful garlic scapes are rising and beginning to curl.

Garlic scapes are the flower heads of the garlic plants and come from hardneck garlic; you'll see them looking like something from outer space at the farm markets now through the end of June, depending on where you are and what variety of garlic the farmer has planted. Longish green sticks with curly ends. Try if you can, to get the less curled scapes as they'll be more tender than the prettier curlicues. Most farmers lop them off as letting them develop can sap the strength from the garlic bulb, and also reduce their size when harvested. Lucky us. We get to enjoy the scpaes, and the garlic a few weeks later.

Just picked and at their peak this week
and for a few more weeks in June.
Do not pass them up in the market, or you'll be sorry. They have a fresh, green, sharp garlicky flavor like nothing you've ever tasted. If you buy some or are lucky enough to grow some garlic, you can store the scapes in the fridge for a few days in a zip bag. There are certainly plenty of recipes around for using the garlic scapes in sautes and stir fries, as well as various forms of pestos, with all sorts of cheese and nuts added. Personally, I just like to puree it with some high quality extra virgin olive oil so I can use some of the puree fresh immediately, and freeze the rest for when the tomato season begins in earnest.

Keeping it simple allows me to add other things to it as I please, at serving time, like cheese, nuts or herbs. Or I can add it into other recipes where the usual cheese and nuts would be out of place. Nothing like a warm garden tomato with garlic scape puree and some fresh ricotta cheese. Spoon it over pastas, roasted vegetables or cooked new potatoes. Dip your bread in it. Wallow. The season is SO short.

There is no recipe, per se. Cut the scapes into 1/2" pieces and place in the bowl of your food processor or blender container. Add enough oil to barely cover them. Process to a paste. Add more oil until it's a thick sauce consistency. Use immediately, or store frozen. To keep the bright green color, press some plastic wrap onto the surface before sealing the container for the fridge or freezer.

1 comment:

  1. This is just what I needed today.... I'm sharing with all my customers because I do NOT have a garlic scape pesto recipe on my site. I do suggest Garlic Scape and Lemon Thyme Butter ;)