11 July 2009
Garlic Scape Pesto
Have you ever used garlic scapes? Garlic scapes are the flower stalks that emerge from the ground near the end of May and into June. Since the scapes flower and drag the energy from the garlic bulb into the seed head, it is crucial to redirect the energy from producing a flower back into the bulb. The scapes are edible, but many gardeners erroneously cut off and discard this tasty part of the plant that can be used in stir fry, pasta sauces, and anything that would benefit from its mild garlicky flavor. I prefer to make pesto with my scapes and then freeze portions of it for a summer long treat and as an alternative to all of that Pesto alla genovese I tend to consume when my basil matures.
In preparing the scapes, a good washing is crucial since dirt really likes all of those crevices near the seed head. I know many people who prefer to cut off the flowering seed, but it is actually edible, so I leave it on. I do snap off the very end of the scape, opposite the seed head, since just like asparagus they tend to be tougher and more fibrous. Just snap it off as you would asparagus and swirl it in a food processor with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, parmesan cheese and if you prefer, walnuts. I've seen recipes that call for Italian parsley before, but honestly, it isn't really necessary. I prefer to sprinkle parsley over pasta dishes once plated, and since garlic scapes are pretty flavorful on their own, you could definitely leave it out.
Garlic Scape Pesto
1 bunch garlic scapes, washed and chopped
2 tbsp crushed walnuts
1/2-3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
dash of kosher salt
generous sprinkle of fresh ground black pepper
1. Toss all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Add more oil slowly if ingredients aren't wet enough.
So what did I do with my garlic scape pesto booty? Why, pasta of course! While in Chicago, I stocked up on some imported pastas at Angelo Caputo's (aka mecca for me) and chose orrechiette, a Puglian dome-shaped pasta with a little bite to it. It mirrors the bite of the garlic scape pesto and counters the soft cannellini beans and sausages I bought a couple weeks ago at C & L Meat Locker in Moscow.