By Jenny Spring
Garlic scapes are the curly-cue stalks of the garlic plant that matures along with the garlic bulb – the part that most of us are familiar with. As the bulb grows larger underground, the stalk begins to lengthen and develop a seed head. If you grow your own garlic (which is easy), trim the scapes off before their flowers open. This forces the plant to focus on bulb production and increases the size of the garlic cloves.
Scapes have a mild garlic flavor and a slight sweetness, which makes them a great addition in the kitchen. You can find them in the early summer and mid-fall at farmers’ markets. They can be used in exactly the same way as garlic in any recipe. They are very versatile. Try them in a sauté, sauce, added to soups, salad dressings and more. The most tender tops of the stem and the buds are delicious chopped up raw.
You can usually get a large amount of scapes from farmers at this time of year as farmers need to pick them off in order for the bulbs to form. Scapes freeze well, as does pesto and it’s a great way to preserve garlic for the winter.
Garlic Scape Pesto
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 3/4 cup coarsely chopped garlic scapes (Or use half scapes and half herbs such as basil, dill and chervil)
- Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- A few generous grinds of black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- In a small, dry pan set over very low heat, lightly toast the pine nuts, stirring or tossing occasionally until just beginning to brown, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes.
- Combine the scapes, pine nuts, lemon juice and zest, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse about 20 times, until fairly well combined. Pour in the olive oil slowly through the feed tube while the motor is running. When the oil is incorporated, transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the grated cheese. If you plan to freeze the pesto, wait to add the cheese until after you’ve defrosted it.
- 1 bunch scapes
- extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt
- Preheat grill to medium high.
- Rinse and dry.
- Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt.
- Place scapes on grill and spread out evenly (be careful they don’t fall through!). Close lid and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until they are slightly charred underneath. Flip scapes and continue cooking on the other side until evenly cooked – they should be slightly crunchy still, but not raw!
- Remove from grill, season to taste (lemon juice is yummy, too) and serve.
Broccoli Pesto Quinoa
- 3 cups cooked quinoa
- 5 cups raw broccoli, cut into small florets and stems
- 3 medium garlic scapes
- 2/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 2 big pinches salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Optional toppings: slivered basil, fire oil, sliced avocado, crumbled feta or goat cheese
- Heat the quinoa and set aside.
- Now barely cook the broccoli by pouring 3/4 cup water into a large pot and bringing it to a simmer. Add a big pinch of salt and stir in the broccoli. Cover and cook for a minute, just long enough to take the raw edge off. Transfer the broccoli to a strainer and run under cold water until it stops cooking. Set aside.
- To make the broccoli pesto, puree two cups of the cooked broccoli, the garlic scapes, 1/2 cup of the almonds, Parmesan, salt, and lemon juice in a food processor. Drizzle in the olive oil and cream and pulse until smooth.
- Just before serving, toss the quinoa and remaining broccoli florets with about 1/2 of the broccoli pesto. Taste and adjust if needed; you might want to add more of the pesto a bit at a time, or you might want a bit more salt or an added squeeze of lemon juice. Turn out onto a serving platter and top with the remaining almonds, a drizzle of the chile oil, and some sliced avocado or any of the other optional toppings.
Jenny Spring and Oliver Wolfe are co-owners of The Spring Farm with Andrea and Brian Currie. Each week, Jenny will share a recipe featuring in-season, Muskoka-grown produce from their local farm, which is just five kilometres from downtown Huntsville. She’ll also share a gardening tip about the chosen vegetable. You can find these vegetables and more at the Huntsville Farmers’ market on Thursdays after Victoria Day in the Canadian Tire parking lot, or at The Spring Farm gate on Bethune Road North starting in June.
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