From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Sometimes a gal has to strike when the iron is hot. That certainly is the case with garlic scapes, alternately known as garlic whistles in some areas of the country. Scapes are the curly shoots that grow from the tops of garlic plants. They are pleasantly fragrant, but less pungent than garlic and milder in flavor than mature cloves we usually deal with. The scapes have wonderful color and a freshness that mature bulbs lack. The trouble is, they are only available for a week or two before disappearing from markets for another year. The Silver Fox and I first had scapes in China where nothing edible is wasted. The brilliant green shoots were briefly stir-fried and served over steaming rice. The dish was quite nice, though the flavors were a bit strange to the uninitiated Western palate. The scapes looked like chives but were sharper in flavor and offered more resistance to the tooth when eaten. It was a lovely introduction to what the Fox dubbed "a new green thing." I had to wait a year before they were locally available, but I grabbed a small bunch as soon as they appeared in farm stands. I personally think the scapes are most enjoyable in their raw, uncooked, state, so I decided to make a pesto to use on a batch of homemade linguine that I planned to serve with a huge salad and homemade bread. It made for a lovely, once-a-year, type meal. I have never seen scapes in a grocery store and I suspect their season has passed in your area, but I wanted to share the recipe with you before it was lost in the dark recesses of my memory. I hope you'll keep it the dark recesses of yours, where it can be culled when next season rolls around. Here is how the pesto is made.
Garlic Scape Pesto with Linguine...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by Dorie Greenspan
10 garlic scapes, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese + more to taste
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
About 1/2 cup olive oil, in two parts
1 pound hot from the pot linguine (cooked per package instructions)
1 cup pasta cooking water
Place scapes, 1/2 cup of the cheese, almonds, lemon juice and zest, and 1/4 cup olive oil in bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse to chop and blend all ingredients and then add remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, and if you wish, more cheese. Add additional oil if you wish a thinner pesto. Season to taste with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Toss linguine with pesto, adding pasta water as necessary to coat pasta. Serve immediately. Yield: about 1 cup pesto and linguine to serve 6.
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