Saturday, June 9, 2012


I love seasonal produce. Last week, I purchased some beautiful garlic scapes at the green market. They are available in late May and June.  Garlic scapes, or flower stalks, are the seed pods that grow from the center stem of hard-necked garlic. The pods grow straight from the center of the garlic head and then curl into full curls as they grow.   When the scapes are in full curl, they are very tender and succulent and have a garlicky taste, milder than typical garlic cloves, but also have a tenderness of asparagus.  They could be used to make pesto or hummus, sautéed as a supplement to a main dish, added raw to salads, or simply used as a garnish.  I tried several. 

First, was a Garlic Scapes Pesto.  My pesto dish is different from the typical greens and nuts (and, for some recipes, cheese).   Pesto made with garlic scapes freezes well and holds its deeply-richened green color better than the traditional basil pesto.  Also, I used freshly-squeezed lemon and lime juices (in pesto?). The result was a mild garlic flavored pesto with an asparagus taste and a hint of citrus.   This pesto is excellent served on pasta, or as a dip for fresh vegetables, added to a sandwich, or any recipe that the traditional pesto is typically used for.

The next recipe is Sautéed Garlic Scapes with Mashed Potatoes. Nothing different here.  We're just substituting the typical chives that are used in mashed potato recipes with garlic scapes.  Although it does sound exotic and a restaurant could probably sell the mashed potato and scapes dish for an additional $2.00, or $3.00, per serving.  Actually, since garlic scapes are more expensive than chives, they will need to add the extra dollars to keep food costs within their target range. 

Then I made Black Chickpeas and Garlic Scapes Hummus. Since I had black chickpeas in my pantry and, of course, more garlic scapes, we tried something "new" (or not so new).  We already talked about the garlic scapes so let's talk a little about black chickpeas.  Black chickpeas are smaller and have a nuttier flavor than regular chickpeas, but they could be used in almost any recipe that calls for chickpeas. The skins of black chickpeas are slightly tougher than regular chickpeas, so they need to be soaked and cooked slightly longer.  I soaked the chickpeas for almost 24 hours and cooked them for about 2 hours. The end result was that the hummus had a nutty, garlicky, grassy, tart and slightly sour flavor.  Sounds like the name of a cookbook.  Another $2.00 up sell?  Yeah.  I think so.

Finally, I made a Garlic Scapes Vinaigrette for a roasted golden beet and goat cheese salad.  Although beets are typically used in fall/winter dishes, in my opinion, I made it anyway. The market had beautiful golden beats, so I couldn't resist.  Also, I bought a red beet.  I have some photos and no photos, but the recipes are here for my fun-filled week of garlic scapes.  What follows?

Garlic Scapes Pesto, Sans Nuts and Cheese
1/4 pound roughly chopped garlic scapes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
salt, to taste

Puree scapes, olive oil, and juices in a blender or food processor until smooth.
And salt to taste.  

Sautéed Garlic Scapes with Mashed Potatoes
2 cups garlic scapes cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups cooked mashed potatoes -- homemade, of course
Sauté garlic scapes in olive oil over medium heat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  When scapes are done to your liking, firm or not so firm, remove scapes and the oil that they were sautéed in from the pan.  Add desired amount of scapes/oil to warm mashed potatoes.

Black Chick Peas and Garlic Scapes Hummus
2 cups of cooked black chickpeas
1/2 cup tahini paste
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup garlic scapes, freshly chopped

Place the ingredients in a blender.

Garlic Scapes Vinaigrette
1/4 sherry wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic scapes, finely chopped, about 1/2 cup
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar and olive oil. Add the garlic scapes and salt and pepper. Set aside and allow the flavors to blend.

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