Garlic Scape Recipes: Pesto

A Celtic knot of garlic scapesI have been asked – no – begged – to reveal my soon-to-be-famous recipes for pesto and hummus using fresh garlic scapes. Ok. I bend to peer pressure. But not without this warning:

EATING THIS STUFF CAN BE ADDICTIVE!

And to lure you into my web, I also offer a recipe for homemade crackers to go with them.

Go ahead…try these…don’t let anyone see you…scoop them into small bowls and go off to your happy place…we’ll see you in a few days. I tantalize you first with the pesto. You have to come back for the hummus and crackers.

GARLIC SCAPE PESTO:

First, a caveat: the problem with this recipe – or maybe it’s me – is that nothing is really measured and substitutions are made freely, depending on what you have on hand. If you are a freestyle cook, you understand this mentality. There are a few things you must have, namely, garlic and olive oil, or it simply isn’t pesto. Personally, I grow a lot of basil and several varieties, but I am not terribly fond of it in pesto (I know, this is blasphemy to my Sicilian heritage), because most recipes ask for a lot of it and it is too overpowering. Now the garlic – I grow lots – I use lots – it is incredibly overpowering – and if you are a true garlic lover, that is just how it should be. Ok – the recipe:

1 doz. garlic scapes
1 cup, more or less, of parsley (I grow a lot of this, too – it balances well with garlic and is available most of the year)
1 1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 – 1 tsp sea salt (you don’t need much)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice

Chop, blend, or whatever you need to do to make it smooth. Yes, you can add Parmesan if you have it – or if you have pine nuts, those are great – and of course, you can totally change the taste with aromatic fresh basils, but I don’t always have those things, and the craving must be fed, regardless. What kind of recipe is this, you ask? Ok, not really a recipe, more like a guideline.

But now that you’ve made it, you must face your ethical dilemma: go hide or go share. Your choice. I won’t tell.

Garlic Status – Summer Solstice ’08

Garlic Status_Summer Solstice 2008

Despite the cold spring here in the Pacific Northwest, the garlic has been thriving! We got everything weeded over the weekend and thoroughly watered. You can almost feel them reaching upward, waiting for that promised sunshine!

As you can see from the photos, I planted the garlic rather densely in beds (4 rows/bed) this year, which has really facilitated the weeding, fertilizing, & watering tasks! The picture in the lower right quadrant shows 2 plots in the background that were recently tilled under — I had grown a green manure crop of a combination of clover, vetch, and ryegrass; I will be planting them again soon with more of the same; these will be garlic beds for next year and 2010. Yes, those are the Olympic Mountains in the background. Gorgeous morning!

Also pictured are the tall spikes, often called “spears” of the elephant garlic. The hardneck varieties send smaller shoots, called “scapes”; pictured are the tight-curling scapes of the rocambole hardnecks. I have been cutting these off (yes! you can have some if you are in the neighborhood!) and using them in pestos, salad dressings, & stir fries. They also add an unusual touch to floral arrangements. I am making some garlic hummus to bring to a barbecue this weekend, and am thinking about how the scapes might be quite beautiful pickled in a jar! Mmm!

I figure bulb harvesting is about a month or so away (a little late this year). I may get one more watering in, but will stop the water after that, which will help prevent molds and extend the shelf-life of the bulbs.

We might hit 70 today when the official summer starts at 4:30 today! That is welcome news for those of us who have been wearing sweatshirts all spring! Celebrate the solstice!

Rain! Rain! Rain!

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you know we’re still waiting for this season called spring and it’s almost summer! The cold temps have delayed most crops – but I have to say, the lettuce, spinach, peas, mustards, parsley, potatoes, rhubarb, and garlic are thriving! (And so are the weeds!)

Garlic scapes are a little slow this year, but I see elephant spears are starting to shoot straight up, which means the curly scapes from the gourmet hardnecks are not far behind.

If you haven’t tried scapes, they are a real treat. Milder than the bulbs, they are perfect in pestos, lightly steamed with other veggies (a perfect match with asparagus!), or with pasta, seafood, eggs – well, I might be biased, but just about everything!

Keep in mind that cooking will lessen (some would say “mellow”) the flavor. Use raw for full strength. For cooked dishes, I generally chop them up and toss them in at the last minute. If you let them sit a few minutes after slicing, the enzymes in the garlic react and create chemical compounds (allicin and ajoene) that provide more health benefits.

Contact me at blythe [at] barbolian [dot] com or 360-681-3891 for availability.

YES! I am open to trades & barters!

The Scallions Are Here!

WOW! Is there anything like fresh green garlic to make you feel that spring has ARRIVED!?!

(Ok – the first crocus and daffodil might also elicit a bit of giddiness – but we don’t EAT those!)

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: THE GARLIC SCALLIONS ARE READY!

Today I went and picked an armful of mizuna – which, by the way, is such an extraordinary green – it’s purplish maroon blush on the topside of the leaves is absolutely beautiful, and its sharp hot, horseradish-like flavor when fresh clears the sinuses. Cooking, as with the garlic, mellows its flavor. Once planted, it seems to re-seed itself prolifically – which is fine, because “weeding” has never been more flavorful!

What could be a better combination than a few garlic scallions (have to test them, you know, to make sure they are ready!), some mizuna, and maybe a tad bit of sea salt, briskly sauteed in a little oil – hmmm…. Oh, dear fresh garlic, how I have missed you! I just cannot break down and buy those 2-for-a-buck inferior bulb varieties that come from who-knows-where. The wait has been worth it! Note: these garlic scallions are from a mixture of gourmet varieties – there is simply no comparison with the “California Early” types grown commercially!

Garlic scallions – or “green garlic” – those tender little morsels before they mature into a pungent clove-divided bulb, spell spring in so many ways! Yes you can eat the shoots! And those garlic cloves that didn’t quite overwinter and have started to sprout? You can still plant them! Even a small pot will do. Crowded is ok. In a couple of months (maybe less), you, too, can be eating your own scallions right from the garden.

Other great ideas for garlic scallions: chopped fresh in salads, humus, pesto (who needs basil?) – or lightly cooked (throw it in at the last minute to not lose the flavor!) in eggs, with pasta, over seafood, in soups, on potatoes, with asparagus – or maybe mixed with leeks or chives and thrown in just about everything.

WANT SOME NOW??? HERE’S HOW TO ORDER: My supplies disappear quickly (they are habit-forming!), so get your order in soon! If you live on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington State, within reasonable distance of Sequim (gas prices are driving up the cost of food everywhere!), I am most willing to accommodate. Call me at (360) 681-3891 or write blythe (at) barbolian (dot) com.

YES I am open to barter & trades!