The Scapes are Ready
Most professional garlic growers have taken off those long, goose-necked green seedheads by now, or they will do so very soon. Scapes are generally removed on or close to the longest day of the year (summer solstice), in order to let the plant concentrate on the business of growing fabulous garlic bulbs all summer.
All this labor-intensive activity means that chefs and home cooks are overwhelmed in their kitchens with the bounty of these fresh and tender vegetables because there are literally tons of them coming off the garlic being grown for market here in Ontario.
Like asparagus, fiddleheads and fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes, scapes are around for such a brief window of time that I tend to use them in everything and I like to develop at least one new recipe every year. I always freeze scapes because they are so easy to keep that way: no blanching required. Simply cut into 1- or 2-inch pieces, or chop fine, measure into 1- or 2-cup amounts and pop into freezer bags, seal, label and freeze for use later in soups, casseroles and stews.
This year, I developed a Garlic Scape Pesto using some of the organic scapes so graciously given to me by Simon deBoer.
Garlic Scape Pesto
Wash scapes in cool water, drain and pat dry. Snip off the seedhead and tougher tips. You can eat the seedhead if it is very small and still tender. Cut the long stems into shorter lengths to fit the bowl of the food processor. Pulse for a few seconds until coarsely chopped. See photo above.
Add 1/2 cup sunflower seeds or pine nuts to the bowl of the food processor. [Any milder nut such as blanched almonds or pecans can be used in this mild-flavored pesto. I like to use sunflower seeds in my pestos because they are grown locally and do not go rancid as quickly as pine nuts.]
Add 1/2 cup coarsely chopped Parmesan or Romano cheese to the bowl of the food processor.
Sprinkle 1/2 tsp freshly grated sea salt over, less or none if the sunflower seeds are salted
Measure out 1 cup of the best quality hemp or hazelnut or olive oil. Cover the bowl with the lid and turn the food processor on. Slowly drizzle the oil through the opening in the lid while the motor is running and keep adding oil until the pesto is the consistency you like.
Depending on how I will use the pesto, I add more or less oil. For example, for the Garlic Scape Potatoes above, I wanted a slightly thinner sauce and so I added more oil. For a dip or spread for bruschetta, I would want a thicker consistency and so would add less oil. Play around with the right balance for you.
Wait! What's MISSING?
Garlic, of course. The green garlic scapes have a deliciously mild garlic flavor combined with a slightly nutty, almost asparagus taste. I don't add cloves of garlic to this pesto, but you might want to. Taste first and then decide. In the same way, you can add other green herbs like basil, sage, oregano, parsley, rosemary and thyme. I would recommend adding a handful of any single or combination of herbs to the pesto, chop with the scapes, add the other ingredients and then taste to see if you need more.
Green Garlic Pesto Potatoes
1 lb small or fingerling potatoes
1/4 to 1/2 cup Green Garlic Pesto
On a rimmed baking sheet, combine potatoes and Green Garlic Pesto. Roast in 375° F oven for 25 to 35 minutes, or until tender.