Garlic scapes - they make you want to play with your food. When I was a child, I went through a period of loving Lick-a-Maid. It felt so naughty to dip your finger into a packet of colored, flavored sugar and slurp your sugar-coated finger. The finger would eventually turn purple or red or green. It never failed to delight me. Later, I would go home and check my tongue in the mirror. If it was purple, my day was made. I still like days when my day is made over something small. It may seem inconsequential - but it never is.
I'm not imbibing straight sugar anymore and the heyday of turning my finger and tongue purple is over. But picking up scapes and looking at their curly ropes still makes me want to play. I tend to create sailors knots with the scapes and dangle them in front of the cat before I finally chopped them. But when it's time to cook - the real play begins. An Italian hummus is devised - perfect for Small-Bites Sunday.
Scapes are fleeting. They're the holiday that comes around once a year. And when they're gone - they're truly gone. Nobody trucks in scapes from foreign countries. Scapes are the green tops of the garlic bulbs that farmers cut around this time of year to allow the bulbs to grow larger and stronger. A few years ago it was noted that those scapes had a strong garlic flavor and could be used in cooking. Voila! A new food-trend was born. The cooks got a new form of garlic and the farmers got some cash.
For a few weeks in June you can find a bundle at the Farmer's Market for a dollar or two. Use the green part of the scapes that are below the small white bulbish end of the green stalk. That's where the flavor is. (You can see the whitish area in the first photo.)
.This is from the NY Times. I played with it because playing is appropriate here. I used more lemon and less oil but their recipe is a god place to start.
White Bean and Garlic Scapes Dip - NY Times (find the original here)
1/3 cup chopped scapes (about 4 maybe 5)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 can (15-19 ounces) cannellini beans or about 2 cups of cooked ones
4 tablespoons of olive oil (or more to taste)
In a food processor pulse scapes, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Add olive oil and pulse still smooth. taste and adjust salt and pepper seasonings. Serve on bread, pita, toasts, crackers or with vegetables. Vegan an vegetarian and good for a crowd.
Today, I will smear the spread on pita and add grilled vegetables and call it lunch.
Then there is the pesto. There are many varieties - substitute cheeses, nuts, herbs and amounts of oil at will. Just remember to include the scapes.
Dorie Greenspan Scape Pesto with Almonds
Garlic Scape Pesto with Pistachios
Variations on an herbal theme
I adapted my usual basil pesto recipe for this. In true Italian fashion,. tt's hard to give exact amounts - I do this to taste. The young basil is very sweet right now - and the scapes are sharp and tangy. It's such an endearing combination - I didn't save the first patch for pasta. I just smeared it on bread and ate it. Right out of the food processor. Sometimes that's the most sensible thing to do.
Garlic Scape Pesto
1/2 cup chopped garlic scapes
1 cup chopped basil
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1/3 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil plus more drizzling on top if freezing
Blend all in a food processor. Taste and adjust. I mean this - tweak this to your sensibilities. I'm sure the amounts I listed were not the ones I wound up with - I alter a lot. Think of the amounts as a starter. You might want more scapes or more cheese - I often want it creamier and add more olive oil. When satisfied, use immediately as a spread or a pasta sauce or atop chicken or pizza.
If you think a "taste of June" is warranted in January, pour into a freezer-proof container. Layer a little bit of olive oil on top of freeze. It will be very welcome in the winter!
... marks the beginning of the white ones. I don't bring them inside anymore. I discovered you needed to own an anteater to do that. All is fleeting in June - which makes you appreciate it even more.