Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sensational Scapes

Last year was the first time I had ever seen or heard of, for that matter, garlic scapes. I had made a pact with myself to buy and eat any new item at the farmer’s market that I had not tried before. So far, this has only proven to be beneficial to me. Well, last year I saw garlic scapes as one of the first items to be stocked once the market opened for the spring. Here in Maine, the growing season is a little slower than the rest of the country, so when the market opens in May, these little beauties are first to arrive, alongside radishes and baby greens.

Garlic scapes are the flowering stalk of a growing bulb of garlic. In these pictures you can see the light green bulbous part of the plant - that is where the flower will open if left to continue growing. If the flower does open, the garlic bulb will not continue to mature, and so the stem is neatly plucked off the plant after the top of it has curled. The exciting thing is though, that this piece is almost entirely edible. It can get a little woody towards the bottom of the stalk, but as far as I know, the blades of grass-like protrusions, stem, bulb and curl, are all edible.
The taste is like a vegetal raw garlic flavor, so a “green garlic’. It can be very pungent, as I recently learned after microwaving the leftover pasta and scape pesto at work today. But garlic never seems to bother me. I can’t smell it on other people or myself. Which may or may not be a good thing. Don’t get me wrong, I know if I have garlic breath, but I have never met anyone who seemed to exude garlic. In my mind, you can (almost) never eat too much garlic.
I use the 'almost' because I do believe that I once crossed that threshold. On a trip to San Francisco there was a garlic themed restaurant that my mother and I went to. It’s a little kitschy, but come on, who would say no to garlic scented Chardonnay? You mean you would say no to garlic Chardonnay? Hmmmm, perhaps I should have as well. But I am not one to pass up odd food/drink options. Without giving you all of the gory details, I realized I had crossed the garlic line, when that night, asleep, face down in the bed; I woke myself up from my own stinky burp. Yes that’s right a stinky burp woke me up. I’m a little ashamed, and admitting it here to you is a little frightening. At least I learned what my limits are when it comes to garlic.

This pesto is pretty strong, but can be cut with more cheese, olive oil and lemon juice if desired. I like the addition of lemon juice because you do need to take the biting edge off the raw garlic flavor. Feel free to toss this with pasta or spread on toast like bruschetta; just don’t pair it with garlic Chardonnay.
Garlic Scape Pesto
As seen in a myriad of recipes online

2 c garlic scape pieces, about ½” long (about ½ a pound)
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
Juice of ½ a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil as needed

Combine garlic scapes, Parmesan, lemon juice salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until combined. You may have to scrape down the sides to ensure that all the garlic scape pieces have met with the blades. Once the mixture has been chopped roughly, turn on the food processor and slowly drizzle in the olive oil, until a paste forms. You can make your pesto smoother, should you want to, with the addition of more olive oil.

1 comment:

  1. I will try this next year when Dan makes the rounds... :)


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