July 3, 2011


My spring garlic plants put out their scapes in the past few days. They always seem to show up overnight. Suddenly, I see the wild curlicue whorls of the seed heads and stems. So artistic! The scapes are cut off in order to encourage the plant to put its energy into making the bulb grow and enlarge, rather than into making seeds. Even if you don't have your own, they're showing up in farmer's markets more and more often. What many people used to throw away (although my Oma added them to soups) are now a "new" gourmet food item. They'll only be available for a few weeks. Be sure to buy and use them when they're still curly. Once they straighten out, they're too old and will be tough.

They can be used cooked or raw. Sauteed in olive oil, steamed like garlicky beans, added to soup - all are delicious. I decided to make a pesto out of them, with a little bit of Spanish twist with the nuts and cheese. Tossed with hot linguini or spaghetti it is divine. That heady smell of garlic takes over your senses. See if you can find some scapes and give this a try.

Garlic Scape Hazelnut Pesto

15 curly garlic scapes
2/3 c. of a nice, green extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. grated Spanish sheep cheese or Pecorino
1/2 c. grated Pamiggiano
1/2 c. dry white wine
Grated rind of one medium lemon
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. ground hazelnuts or whole pine nuts

Wash scapes and chop roughly to fit into the bowl of a food processor more easily. Add half of the olive oil to the scapes and pulse until the scapes are well chopped. Add remaining olive oil and the rest of ingredients to the bowl and process until smooth, adding more olive oil if you like the consistency more loose.
Cover with plastic wrap, pushing the plastic down onto the surface of the pesto to keep it from oxidizing and turning dark. If using right away, leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. If not, refrigerate up to three days. Toss with hot pasta, cooked al dente, and serve.


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