Looking for a good recipe for Nettle Soup? Look no farther! All these nutrient-dense weeds growing out there wild and free - and free for the taking! Indulge in one of nature's superfoods!
February is a weird month - we get a little bit of everything in the weather department. We do a lot of fantasizing through seed catalogs and are anxious to get our hands back in the dirt. When the winter blues & blahs get you down, our latest kale recipe, "Death by Garlic, Revived by Kale," is sure to bring you around.
What's to salvage out of a garden hammered by winter storms? Italian Lacinato (or Tuscan) Kale stands strong! Here's a great recipe for Chicken-Kale-Cauliflower casserole (with a fair amount of garlic, of course!)
We have artichokes! Celebrate by making your own aioli - basically garlic, lemon juice, egg yolks, and olive oil blended together in a smooth mass - to transport yourself into some other realm. It is a night and day difference from the stuff you buy in a jar called mayonnaise. Artichokes - extraordinary thistle that they are - are the perfect partner to this excursion into a gastronomic swoon.
In this post, I confess to having a serious case of scape envy, based on reports I am getting from others whose garlic plants are already producing those delectable scapes. Want to know the difference between scapes, scallions, and "green garlic" and how elephant garlic fits in to this picture? I'll try to unravel some of that for you. And if you're wondering what to do with your scapes, stay tuned for my upcoming cookbook!
I have been getting a lot of questions about garlic scapes lately – and in checking my blog stats, a lot of people are searching for recipes using scapes. Scapes, those curly flower shoots from the hardneck varieties of garlic, arrive just as we are running out of our green garlic harvest. My favorite way to use them is in pestos with parsley, olive oil, & parmesan cheese. They are also great in hummus and other dips. Cook them very gently and pair them with things that aren’t too overpowering so their delicate flavors shine through. They can be used like green onions in salads – and are particularly good in bean salads. They are great in every combination of stir-fry imaginable. Toss them into omelettes. Roast them with asparagus. Chop them up over fish. Infuse them in butter. The possibilities are endless! And if they get too tall and tough to eat, cut them and put them in a vase!
This afternoon, I strolled (ok – hobbled – but that’s for another post) through the garden and saw a very simple, fast, easy, and gourmet (!) dinner before me: first-of-the-season garlic scapes, first snow peas, salad greens, & thinnings – all tossed together in a tortilla. Here’s the recipe (loosely defined — I don’t really believe in recipes, just guidelines):
Spring Garden Tour Tortillas
- A dozen garlic scapes, coarsely chopped
- Several handfuls of snow peas
- A few beet thinnings – some with little beets (chop stems; separate out leaves)
- A few chard thinnings (chop stems; separate out leaves)
- Some radish thinnings (separate leaves)
- Numerous leaves of red & green leafed lettuce (we have tons!)
- Numerous leaves of spinach
- Also used: some leftover chicken, chopped (optional – this could also be meatless), some olive oil, a little balsamic vinegar, and some tortillas.
Just an aside – I don’t believe in wasting anything. I feed scraggly hairy roots to my worms, but eat just about everything else. Stems are good. Radish leaves loose their prickles when lightly cooked. But the idea here is to get creative with whatever you have on hand. Here we go:
Heat a frying pan hot – toss in a little olive oil – and then toss in the scapes, peas, the little beets, & stems from the beets & chard. Cook a couple minutes at most.
Snack on the radishes while you cook everything.
Toss in the chicken, give it a stir, & the chopped greens (beet leaves, chard, radish tops). Sprinkle with a little balsamic vinegar – not much, because it can be overpowering – just enough to give it a little tang. Stir & cover.
As soon as the greens are wilted (about 1 minute), fill a tortilla, top with fresh lettuces & spinach, and eat. The wilted greens add a bit of moisture to the mix, so you might have to tilt the pan to let it drain to one side. Cheese would also be good, but some of us are lactose-sensitive, and it is just fine without. Chopped nuts might be nice. Too bad I forgot chopped chives!
Fast – fresh – fabulous – fun – several reasons to grow your own or buy from your neighbor!
I promised you all my favorite hummus recipe. But first, I’d like to know how a bunch of smashed chick peas mixed with a little this and that, and a name that sounds like something related to compost, has become such an exotic dish among pseudo yuppies like myself.
Ok – I have a confession. I don’t really have a “favorite” hummus recipe. I make it different every time. But see, that’s the beauty of it. Here’s how I made it the other day – and everyone woofed it:
Put in a blender or otherwise chop, smash, and blend:
- 2 cans of chickpeas or garbanzo beans, same thing, drained – save the juice. Usually I cook my own, but this day I was in a hurry. Despite my raving about garlic, garbanzos are really what make hummus hummus – but you could also use another kind of bean if you don’t have them on hand.
- Garlic scapes – about a dozen or more – personally, I just can’t get enough of these curly things
- 3 T olive oil – (low-fat variations could use less)
- 1/3 c lemon juice or a couple of squeezed lemons
- 1/3 c sesame seed (I would have used more but I ran out) – if you don’t have a blender, Tahini, which is essentially sesame seed already blended with olive oil – is a good choice. If you use Tahini, be cautious with the oil.
- 1 c or so of parsley, smashed down – I grow a lot of this, and at this point, this recipe is sounding a lot like the pesto one, only with added beans instead of walnuts
- Maybe a little salt – don’t really need it with the lemon juice
Chop it, blend it, or whatever you need to do to make this a relatively smooth paste. Add back in about 1/4 cup of the drained bean juice if it looks too thick.
This hummus version is very green. People won’t know it’s hummus, which they think of as being kind of tan and something they’d maybe rather not describe. Yes – it’s very garlicky and very lemony. It’s also heavy on parsley. I love all these things.
Hummus is wonderful. Think of the many things you can do with this stuff! Here are some ideas:
- spread it on bread (better than butter!), pita bread, fresh crackers, tortilla chips
- dunk veggies in it, such as carrots, celery, broccoli – or whatever you have
- mellow it out with another can of beans
- spice it up with a little cayenne – or maybe some oregano or cumin, a little pepper
- use black beans instead of chickpeas
- leave out the sesame seeds if you don’t have any – don’t worry, it still works!
- add a couple scoops of peanut butter (some people like anything if it has peanut butter in it, my husband, included)
- make it more tangy with a couple of scoops of yogurt
- use lime juice instead of lemon
- add different vegetables to it – roasted peppers, spinach, sun dried tomatoes? mmmm….
- garnish it with parsley & paprika
- sculpt with it (the idea here is get creative!)
This humble dish is one of the oldest known to man – and you can see why – it can be whatever you like or whatever you have or a mixture of all you have and like. It’s wonderful. It’s eaten daily all over the Arab world, and many other cultures have a version they call their own. In fact, it’s known to have been around 5000 years before Christ! Now that’s amazing. My guess is that it helped the Egyptians build the pyramids. Just think what YOU can do with it!
Plus, it’s full of protein, iron, vitamin C, fiber, and more, depending on how it’s made.
I figure that anything that looks like a glob but gets your kids to eat beans, whole-grain crackers, and vegetables must be a good thing.
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 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.