My Friend the Garlic Scape
While in Miami over the weekend, I received an e-mail from home base with the subject line: Scapes Are Here!
Even at a distance of 900-plus miles from home, I was delighted by the news that one of my long-anticipated produce items had made its annual debut at the farmer's market. The "scape" in question is hardly a typo or a secret code word; it's shorthand for garlic scape, a part of the garlic plant that is a garlic lover's nirvana.
Here's the anatomy lesson: Garlic and its relatives in the allium family, (leeks, chives, onions) grows underground, where the bulb begins its journey, soft and onion-like. As the bulb gets harder (and more like the garlic we know), a shoot pokes its way through the ground. Chlorophyll- green like a scallion (maybe even greener), the shoot is long and thin and pliable enough to curl into gorgeous tendrils.
This stage of growth is the garlic scape, folks. If left unattended, the scape will harden and transform from green to the familiar opaque white/beige color of garlic peel. Keeping the shoot attached will also curtail further growth of the bulb. So, in an effort to allow the garlic to keep growing, the farmer is getting a two-fer with this edible delectable that cooks are just beginning to discover.
At home, the scape is great fun; try dicing it into scrambled eggs, adding to a veggie saute or using as garnish for rice. However, the mac-Daddy way to understand the beauty of the scape is to pulverize a bunch into pesto. Instead of pine nuts, I use heart-healthy walnuts and far less cheese than I do with a basil-based pesto. The garlic flavor is fresh and light rather than redolent and pervasive, which means you can spread the pesto on toast and still kiss your kitchen mate.
I love it with short pasta and few cherry or grape tomatoes thrown in for color and acidity. The scapes last through June, a small window to understand what the fuss is all about. If you're like me, you'll stockpile a bunch and whip up pesto to enjoy into the rest of the summer.
Garlic Scape Pesto
1 cup garlic scapes (about 8 or 9 scapes), top flowery part removed, cut into ¼-inch slices
1/3 cup walnuts
¾ cup olive oil
¼-1/2 cup grated parmigiano
½ teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
Place scapes and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and whiz until well combined and somewhat smooth. Slowly drizzle in oil and process until integrated. With a rubber spatula, scoop pesto out of bowl and into a mixing bowl. Add parmigiano to taste; add salt and pepper. Makes about 6 ounces of pesto. Keeps for up to one week in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
For ½ pound short pasta such as penne, add about 2 tablespoons of pesto to cooked pasta and stir until pasta is well coated.
By Kim ODonnel |
June 6, 2006; 9:56 AM ET
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