Edward: Garlic scapes. What are they. The unknown. Terrifying!
But no! They’re just the flower stalk of the garlic plant, usually seen at farmer’s markets around the beginning of the season. They’re quite lovely — gracefully curled, like extra-long green beans, deep green turning yellowish approaching the flower.
The stalk is firm, with a snap — like green beans. The flavor is…well, garlicky. To me it’s sort of analogous to green onions, in that they have a definite garlic flavor, but with a green, herby overtone. Also fairly spicy. I was expecting something more mellow, but these actually pack a punch.
The first thing we made with these is garlic scape pesto, using the Saveur recipe. This recipe uses salted, roasted cashews. Some use almonds or pine nuts. Hannah figured the cashews would make for a creamier pesto, so we went with cashews.
I started off by separating the flower tips from the scapes. It’s probably optimal to just snap them off with your fingers, like with asparagus stalks, but I used a knife, for no particular reason other than that I was feeling shivvy. (We’re saving these flower ends in some water to see if they open up.)
That done, you set about chopping up the scapes. The Saveur recipe calls for 1 cup of “finely chopped” scapes, so I went about chop-chopping.
These guys are tricky to chop, not because of texture/thickness but because the hard little pieces go rolling everywhere. I was getting a little irritated, but then Hannah pointed out that it was all going into the food processor anyway, so why bother chopping them into teeny pieces? What a fountain of wisdom is Hannah!
And here I must brag on myself a little bit. Check out my awesome spatial estimating powers (third photo from top). I grabbed what I figured would end up about a cup of scapes, and sure enough, it came to one cup (minus a few pieces that as far as I know are still somewhere on the kitchen floor). SUPERSPATIALESTIMATOR
So then you get your other ingredients together. This recipe has four ingredients plus salt and pepper. You can’t get much simpler than this!
You got your 1/2 cup of finely grated Parmesan — I don’t have to tell you not to use the green can, right?
A decent olive oil. Surprisingly, Costco’s Kirkland Organic Extra Virgin “Toscano” is not bad at all, and passes the “actual real extra virgin olive oil” test (which, as you probably know, isn’t something you can assume).
Your roasted, salted cashews. PROTIP: buy these in bulk at your local natural-ish grocery. We got these at Sprouts, where they had cashew pieces in bulk for considerably cheaper than whole cashews.
You put everything into a food processor, add a little salt and pepper, and away we go! Taste it and season accordingly. I ended up using a few shakes of sea salt, a bit of black pepper (not that much, really, since it’s a bit spicy to begin with), and adding a little lemon juice to brighten up the flavor.
You can use this pesto with pretty much anything you do with pesto. Last night I baked some Mahi-mahi fillets (15-20 min at 375) that I had topped with pesto and thin slices of lemon. Delicious! We also put this in an omelette with sliced fresh mozzarella. Magnifico!
It freezes well, too. Hannan & Edward say check it out at your local farmer’s market this weekend!